When you are recovering from an injury sustained from a car accident, for instance, or simply from an illness, it is important to attend your scheduled doctor’s visits. However, whether you are too hurt to drive or simply do not have a vehicle to get there, you may need help from an outside source. New services recently launched by the ridesharing platforms Uber and Lyft are designed to meet this important need for many medical patients.
In December, Uber announced a new service – Uber Health – that enables healthcare providers to set up and coordinate rides to medical appointments for their patients. This launch is subsequent to the partnerships made by both Uber and Lyft with non-emergency medical transportation (NEMT) companies to provide ridesharing services for patients.
How does it work?
Medical providers use Uber or Lyft’s ridesharing platform to schedule rides for patients through an online dashboard. (Patients have to download the app.) The doctors are the ones who determine which patients need the service; they’re also the ones who pay for it. In this way, they can ensure their patients make it to the appointments.
The problem of missing scheduled medical appointments in the U.S. is widespread; about 3.6 million people miss their appointments because of transportation problems. Patients who miss appointments can hurt their chances for proper recovery.
It’s not entirely altruistic, however. Doctors can also guarantee that they will be reimbursed, since insurance companies don’t pay out on missed appointments.
Pros and cons of Uber and Lyft’s concierge rides
Although ridesharing for medical purposes is a promising development, there are potential concerns along with the obvious benefits. Some of the points in favor of these services include:
- Easy to use platform for the provider and patient
- More cost effective than other forms of NEMT
- The promise of HIPAA compliance from these ridesharing platforms to ensure medical records are not shared with drivers
In particular, personal injury victims, or people with workers’ compensation claims, can benefit from the service. This is because failure to follow doctors’ orders in regard to their medical care, physical rehab, or pain management needs can weaken their claims. The failure to attend scheduled appointments can indicate to those evaluating your claim for damages that you are not doing everything you can to recover. The insurance company may conclude that you do not truly need financial compensation for the injuries you claim.
There are some causes for concern among potential Uber Health and Lyft Concierge users, however. The primary issues are:
- The risk for data breaches, which Uber in particular has suffered in the past, that could place medical records shared through the app at risk. Uber and Lyft will have to take proactive steps to implement sufficient technical and administration protections in order to comply with the requirements of HIPAA’s security and privacy rules.
- Patients – especially older ones – may not have cell phones or tablets, and therefore cannot use the app.
- Not all vehicles used by Uber and Lyft drivers are wheelchair accessible.
- Uber and Lyft drivers are not certified or trained in basically CPR or emergency protocol. If a patient suffers a heart attack, or a bout of dementia, or any medical emergency, his or her best chance at survival is having those services rendered immediately.
If your medical provider or doctor uses a ridesharing app such as those offered by Uber or Lyft, before using these services, consider the factors mentioned above and discuss this option with your doctor’s office.
If a car crash or other personal injury due to the fault of another party has left you in both physical and financial straits, the Charlotte injury attorneys at Warren & Kallianos, PLLC, can evaluate your case and take fast action to pursue the maximum compensation you are owed. To get started with a free consultation, give us a call today at 704.275.5593 or fill out our contact form.