Taxi hailing tech company Uber on Thursday announced that it is venturing into the multi-trillion dollars healthcare business.
Uber and a handful of other aggressive tech companies don’t want to miss on money-spinning health sector just because they’re busy building smartphones, apps, and self-driving cars.
Uber’s investment model is designed for healthcare organizations to order Uber rides for patients who are receiving care at their facilities. Uber also launched an API so the ride-hailing service can be built into existing healthcare tools.
Uber Health isn’t an exact replica of the existing Uber app. Instead, health facilities can schedule rides for patients and caregivers (up to a month ahead of time, so patients can get to appointments and make sure they get their follow-up care). The facilities also pay for the rides. Uber Health hopes to replace the transportation options facilities usually book to pick up patients.
Unlike the usual Uber app, Uber health hopes to provide easy rides for patients without smartphones. Instead, the rides are coordinated through text message, and there’s a forthcoming plan to set up calls to landlines or cellphones instead of texting.
Hospitals, rehab centers, and senior care facilities —and more than 100 organizations across the U.S. — are already using a beta version of the program.
Uber isn’t the first major tech company to break into the healthcare space, which the World Economic Forum values at $6.5 trillion worldwide. Companies like Apple and Google are collecting tons of data on their users, which means it’s not much of a stretch for them to start using information about our eating, sleeping, and heart rate patterns to create new tools and products.
Google announced in January an algorithm that can detect whether someone has high blood pressure or is at risk for a heart attack or stroke through eye scan. The researchers were part of Google’s health research division, Verily, which became part of the company in 2015. The AI has a 70 percent accuracy rate, and it’s improving.
Apple is also using its Apple Watch product to track health signals like heart rate. With the KardiaBand, wearers can accurately detect irregular heartbeats and other indicators about poor heart health.
Amazon is not left out as it was rumored to be thinking about creating its own healthcare company. Alexa, Amazon’s digital assistant, already knows a lot about web users’ habits and health problems, like if you’re asking which pharmacies are open or inquiring as to home remedies for a sore throat.
The lines between health and tech is getting more blurry buy the day and it will be interesting to see how the full marriage of these two will benefit mankind.
– Additional information from Mashable was used in this report.