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Uber and hospital partner to help patients make appointments

Partnering to ensure people get the care they need
Posted: 3:07 PM, May 31, 2018
Updated: 2018-06-01 16:08:24-04

Some hospitals are partnering with Uber to cut costs and help people who don't have easy access to the care they need.

It's estimated more than 3.5 million people in the United States miss their doctor's appointments or delay medical care every year because they don't have transportation. 

Jeff Barker is grabbing a coffee at one of his favorite places before heading to his appointment. But because of Parkinson's, he can't just hop in his car and drive off when he's done.

"It did take away some freedom," Barker said. "And it did take away some of my mobility. That's okay."

Barker started using Uber.

"It's very easy," Barker said. "You just tap on the app and then here you are."

He plugged in his destination.

"So then we just tap that," Barker said. "And we are going to go to the outpatient and we're going to take UberX."

In a few minutes, his ride was outside.

Barker's driver helped him put his bag into the car. They hit the road, with the conversation ranging from small talk like football, to more serious topics.

"So you're going to a doctor appointment?" Barkers driver asked.

"Actually I'm going to go see my physical therapist," Barker said. "And she's going to put me through some exercises. I've got some real problems with my mobility keeping my balance and so forth."

Before you know it, Barker was at the hospital for his appointment. And he paid 30 percent less than Uber normally charges to get there.

With Uber, he's able to come to his appointments consistently, and is seeing results.

"He's reporting to me functional improvement," said UCHealth Physical Therapist Renee Peter. "And I'm seeing functional improvement just walking you know a short distance from the lobby to the clinic."

Nicole Caputo worked with Uber on behalf of her hospital, UCHealth  in Colorado to develop the discounted rides for patients. She says they wanted to lift the burden of transportation, which she believes in turn, improves their care.

"You make your appointment and you can't get here you have to cancel," Caputo said. "You have to reschedule. And the more times you have to reschedule and you have to cancel that and really gets in the way of providing good care."

For Barker, the partnership not only saves him money, but brings him one step closer to enjoying a dream vacation with his wife.

"I try to imagine myself walking along the beach," Barker said. "So that would be fantastic."

A partnership making it easier to keep your appointments, improve your health, and in this case, enjoy the vacation of your dreams.