“Uber Health” – Friend or Foe?

January 20, 2014 | Reply More

Rob prefered photos Web blogHas it occurred to you that the health care needs a service like Uber for transportation, offering convenient scheduling, transparent and secure financial processing and quality services for consumers?   Call it “Uber Health” and recognize that ZocDoc (http://www.zocdoc.com/) offers part of this service.  Other early stage companies like HealthTap (https://www.healthtap.com/) are filling in other parts of this service.

A recent news item reports that an Uber co-founder is indeed developing such a service (presumably as a completely separate company (“One of Uber’s core crew said to launch on-demand doctors,” CNET News http://news.cnet.com/8301-1023_3-57617245-93/one-of-ubers-core-crew-said-to-launch-on-demand-doctors/?subj=cnet&tag=title).  Sounds like a good idea, right?  Convenience, billing transparency and quality for health care patients.  What could be better?

This all sounds good but then the other side of transparency rears up – when the seller of services knows that demand outstrips supply, the price goes up.  Airlines and hotels have perfected this big data approach to pricing.  Indeed, Uber itself is in the middle of a contretemps about its pricing model (“Is Uber’s Surge Pricing an Example of High Tech Gouging?” NYT http://www.nytimes.com/2014/01/12/magazine/is-ubers-surge-pricing-an-example-of-high-tech-gouging.html).  The short story is that Uber’s pricing surges when it is hard to find a cab or town car, such as in a storm.  Lesson for “uber” patients – don’t get the flu when everyone else does.

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