Uberizing Healthcare: Bringing Back the House Call?

uber

This new term, “uberizing” or “uberization”, has many different meanings. As I see the term used in articles, blogs, and ads it seems to have different interpretations. But, specifically, it should mean on-demand at-home care delivery. Will this bring back the house call?

Those of us familiar with the Uber principle of transportation find that it has many advantages over the utilization of a rent car or a taxi. If you are in a strange city, it used to be that the taxi drivers knew where to go and deliver you to a strange (to you) destination. Then GPS technology became available and at a reasonable cost, and suddenly, everybody knew how to arrive at that destination. Technology made the difference. And it didn’t need a 20 percent tip!! So, the Uber principle caught fire and regulation, taxi driver strikes, and other disadvantages have not been successful in stopping the spread worldwide.

The uberization of healthcare would mean that the focus would move to consumer empowerment. It would become patient-centric instead of being hospital or physician-centric. The application of technology to create a virtual house call raises major concerns. Will it lead to self-diagnosing? Is it dangerous and will lower quality and standards? Technology set this in motion and it is up to developers to assure a positive experience. We have already advanced to wearable technology and the next level is digestibles. Will the next technology be implantable? With an app to compare your readings?  These apps are already in progress as shown with the recent partnership between Under Armor and IBM’s Watson computer.

Empowered patients are crowding our waiting rooms. The internet enables patients to satisfy their quest for information. Many want to be in charge of their health issues, especially those managing chronic illness. They want their own health data and if a caregiver is involved, they want to share this information – even at a distance. Personal healthcare means access for the people who are family. It may be a disruption of our current healthcare model, but society is in the middle of transition and this is a part of the transformation of healthcare delivery.

The driving force behind Uber and the true genius of the concept is consumer satisfaction. In medicine we have been extremely concerned about patient satisfaction since it directly relates to revenue generation. If we think about the pain points in healthcare, we can create a long list.  If we can make the control of illness simpler and put the needs of our patients first and foremost, who knows what we could achieve?

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