While ridesharing services like Uber and Lyft certainly have some controversy surrounding them, it's hard to deny that they have brought tangible benefits to the lives of many. Today, Uber introduced Uber Health, which is an official partnership with healthcare organizations. It allows healthcare providers, caregivers and staff to order rides for patients to and from appointments, and marks a positive development for the embattled ridesharing company.
Uber Health allows patients to take control of their rides to and from a provider's office; or, if the patient is unable to (or unwilling to) schedule their own rides, a provider, member of the provider's staff or a caregiver can do it for them up to 30 days in advance. The entire process is conducted via text message, so there is no need to have a smartphone advanced enough to run the Uber app. It allows for the organizations to easily keep track of their patients' rides and billing. And because privacy is a huge concern when it comes to healthcare, Uber is partnering with Clearwater Compliance, a leading HIPAA company, to ensure it has enough safeguards in place.
It's a good idea in theory, and it may work very well in practice. The problem here is that Uber does not have a history of respecting the privacy of its users. Now, the HIPAA safeguards should help with that, but what if Uber's data is breached again like it was back in 2016? There's a risk here of trusting potentially sensitive medical information to a third-party provider with a bad track record.
Still, the move is a step in the right direction for the company as it seeks to move past its myriad legal troubles. Over 100 healthcare companies have signed on to to work with Uber Health. Clearly this is a big market, as Lyft embarked on a similar venture with Hitch Health. We'll see what comes out of all this, but all in all, this is probably a good thing.