Uber is moving more deeply into the health sector, and that means striking deals so employers and health plans will cover the cost of a trip to a doctor’s office.
The ride-hailing company announced Wednesday it is working with Grand Rounds, a venture-backed health-tech start-up that works with employers to provide guidance on employees’ medical needs. That includes things like finding the right doctor or getting a second opinion for a complex diagnosis.
Uber’s health-care efforts to date have primarily involved nonemergency medical transportation, which is a $3 billion market, and fit into the larger medical transport market, which some researchers say will be worth $42 billion by 2024.
Uber and rival Lyft see an opportunity here because some 3.6 million Americans miss their health-care appointments each year due to a lack of reliable transportation. Uber and Lyft have focused on selling to Medicare and Medicaid, as well as other insurers, to help those who can’t afford a ride or can no longer drive.
For Uber, working with Grand Rounds is an opportunity to move into a new and potentially lucrative market: large companies that are self-insured.
Increasingly, companies are willing to pay for their workers to seek medical care, especially if it means they can avoid costlier health expenses down the line. As part of this many, employers are starting to experiment with ways to steer their employees to higher-quality and lower-cost physicians. Providing free rides could prove to be incentive enough for a worker to make the shift.
Grand Rounds’ largest customers include Comcast (which owns CNBC’s parent company NBCUniversal), Walmart and News Corp, all of which are self-insured.
A free Uber ride to the doctor
The Grand Rounds experience with Uber will be different from how consumers normally use the ride-hailing service. Grand Rounds’ care coordinators will book the rides while they’re on the phone with a member, and let them know that the rides will be free. The idea is to make it easier for those who don’t feel comfortable using the Uber app, as well as to increase the likelihood that they’ll see a doctor.
The program can also be used to guide patients to better-quality doctors who might be further away. Rides can be booked immediately or in the future.
Grand Rounds is betting that employers will be happy to cover the cost of a $10 Uber ride to avoid getting a bill down the line for thousands of dollars in imaging that didn’t need to be ordered, or worse, an unnecessary surgery.
“We’re working the last mile problem here, really,” said Grand Rounds’ CEO Owen Tripp. “We’ve already helped identify the highest value provider, book the appointment, and now we’re making [sure] the member gets to appointment safely and on-time.”
Tripp said his company decided to work with Uber and it had consistently heard that a lot of workers don’t go to the doctor because of a lack of transportation. Cost is a factor, he said, but some younger employees might not feel comfortable behind the wheel.
Uber has been staffing up its team that’s focused on the health-care sector, including in hiring Lyft’s former regional vice president Dan Trigub and Aaron Crowell, a longtime health consultant, to lead its burgeoning business (Crowell has since left the company). Lyft in November poached a McKesson executive to help build its own health operations.
Uber has had a mixed performance since its public market debut in May. Investors are still debating whether the ride-hailing company will generate a profit.
Adams Clinical removes hurdle to clinical trial participation
How Adams Clinical increased retention and streamlined operations by switching to Uber.
One of the hardest parts of conducting a clinical trial is identifying willing participants. Once a participant is identified, strict qualifications and an often-lengthy time commitment limits who can participate, and a lack of access to transportation can make it difficult for participants to commit to and complete the study. To help improve recruitment and retention rates, Adams Clinical offered taxi rides to their participants. However, this solution became a burden on operational efficiency since taxis were only accessible to participants who lived close by and required the staff to pay at the end of each ride.
Finding the perfect transportation solution with Uber Health
To expand their transportation offering, Adams Clinical became an early beta partner with Uber in 2016. The team started using Uber’s web dashboard to arrange and pay for rides for participants with just a few clicks. Over the three years of this partnership, the switch to Uber Health simplified operational management, while reducing time spent on recruitment with increased retention rates. The easy-to-use Uber Health dashboard tracked all the rides and processed payments from one centralized interface, allowing the staff to arrange rides without the hassle of paying at the end of each trip. This flexibility, plus the extensive reach of Uber driver-partners in the Boston area, provided Adams Clinical with the transportation solution needed to successfully manage their participants in need of rides—which removed the headache from recruiting and retaining their study participants.
The result: Improved retention rates, simplified financial records, and an overall lift in team morale
By teaming with Uber Health, Adams Clinical enjoys a number of key benefits including:
• Expanded Recruitment—Using Uber Health cut down the length of enrollment by providing a larger pool to recruit from, resulting in a 5 to 10 percent reduction in recruitment time over the last two years.
• Centralized Billing—All rides are charged to one company credit card, which is then processed at the end of each month to streamline the amount of administrative effort required.
• Reliable Service—Each ride is tracked in the dashboard so the team knows when the participant will be arriving to help keep the rest of the study on schedule.
• Improved Retention—In the first two years of the partnership with Uber, Adams Clinical estimated up to 20 percent fewer people dropped out of a trial when transportation was arranged to and from the clinic.
• Financial Accountability—Details for each ride are available in the dashboard, and can be downloaded to a spreadsheet, offering convenient management with trial-specific reporting per participant.
• Easy to Use—Using Uber Health has been easy for both staff and participants, even among populations without smartphones or passengers new to Uber.
by Kendall Brown
Get a discounted lift to the polls on Election Day
By Jonathan Sperling
No MetroCard? No excuse to stay home on Election Day.
Ride-sharing giant Lyft is getting in on Get Out the Vote efforts by offering discounted rides to polling locations in New York City on Election Day.
Use code VOTENYC19 between 4:00 a.m. and 11:00 p.m. on Election Day to receive 50 percent off the price of a Lyft ride, up to $5. The deal is inspired by the fact that more than 15 million registered voters didn’t vote in 2016 because of transportation issues.
“At Lyft, we’re working to improve lives by connecting people and their communities through the world’s best transportation. This Election Day, we want to help make it easier for people in New York City to get to the polls,” said Lyft’s Director of Public Policy Jen Hensley. “Every voice is important, and we’re excited to help make them heard in this year’s elections.”
Uber, Lyft, and DoorDash kick off $90 million fight against California’s gig worker law
Under the ballot measure, drivers could get earnings guarantee of 120 percent of minimum wage
A group of drivers and couriers for Uber, Lyft, and DoorDash launched a new group called Protect App-Based Drivers and Services, which is aimed at passing a ballot initiative in California to counteract the effects of the state’s recently passed gig worker bill. The effort is being supported by the companies, which have vowed to spend $90 million to get the measure passed in 2020.
Assembly Bill 5, which was signed into law by California Gov. Gavin Newsom (D) on September 18th, enshrines the so-called “ABC test” for determining whether someone is a contractor or employee. Legal experts agree the law will make it more difficult for gig economy companies like Uber, Lyft, and DoorDash to classify their drivers and couriers as independent contractors. And the companies have argued that the law represents an existential threat to their business models.
As such, the companies were preparing this contingency plan even before Newsom signed the bill into law. On August 29th, The New York Times reported that Uber, Lyft, and DoorDash would spend $90 million ($30 million each) to pass a ballot initiative that would essentially exempt them from the law. (InstaCart is also involved, but it hasn’t committed to spend any money to support its passage.) The hope was that after striking out with lawmakers and labor groups, the companies could win a reprieve by appealing directly to voters.
The ballot measure would ask voters to approve the following:
- At least 120 percent of the minimum wage
- $0.30 per mile for expenses such as gas and vehicle wear-and-tear
- Health care subsidies consistent with employer contributions under the Affordable Care Act for drivers who work 15 hours a week or more
- Occupational accident insurance to cover on-the-job injuries
- Automobile accident and liability insurance
- Protection against discrimination and sexual harassment
- Recurring background checks of drivers
- Mandatory safety training of drivers
- Zero tolerance for alcohol and drug offenses
- A cap on driver hours per day to prevent sleepy driving
It’s a new spin on the failed proposal that Uber and Lyft presented to state officials as a compromise to prevent the passage of AB5. The companies had promised to pay their drivers $21 an hour (but only while on a trip), provide them with sick leave, and “empower” them to “have a collective voice” — a nod toward drivers forming a union.
After AB5 passed, though, Uber and Lyft warned that drivers could lose their flexibility to drive when they wanted. “Drivers would not be able to choose when to sign on anytime they want it,” Tony West, Uber’s general counsel, said in September. “They would work in shifts like every other employee works in shifts.” Experts have said there is nothing in federal or state law that precludes Uber from offering its drivers the same flexibility as employees as they have now as contractors.
(West also claimed that Uber could ultimately pass the ABC test because “drivers’ work is outside the usual course of Uber’s business.”)
The ballot measure is a risky — and costly — move for Uber and Lyft, insofar as it could further antagonize labor unions that have been hugely influential over the passage of AB5. Unions championed the bill throughout the legislative process, and have been at the center of the fight over gig work in California.
“This measure is another brazen attempt by some of the richest corporations in California to avoid playing by the same rules as all other law-abiding companies in our state,” Art Pulaski, executive secretary-treasurer of the California Labor Federation, said in a statement. “California’s unions will join drivers who want fair wages, better treatment and flexibility to defeat this corporate ploy.”
Meanwhile, union-backed groups and other supporters of AB5 are planning to protest outside the homes of key Uber investors, including Uber board member and Benchmark Capital partner Bill Gurley.
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