The Uber Model: Better Healthcare Through Improved Patient Access

It’s hard to imagine, but America’s healthcare system is rare amongst other industrialized countries. This is mostly due to the privatized model that we have been conditioned to deal with our whole lives. It seems that uniqueness is not equated with success; our country is consistently ranked at the bottom of healthcare systems based on measures of quality, access, and efficiency.

The United States is unequivocally the most expensive health care system in the world as well, yet patient satisfaction remains embarrassingly low. It’s astounding that this trend continues in this country despite the increasing amount of technology and innovation driven citizens.

It’s time to demand better health care. Making it more inexpensive is undoubtedly an end goal, but providing more accessible and efficient means of acquiring it are achievements that can be more immediate.

How can this be done, you may ask? The answer lies with Uber.

Now, you might be saying “I thought Uber was within the transportation industry?” Of course you’re correct, but the same model can be applied to the health care world.

Uber has been tremendously successful because of its streamlined, convenient, and accessible approach for users. If patients started demanding the same from providers, the problems of absurdly long wait times and unattainable access to healthcare would be improved. Just as Uber allows users to see available transportation within their immediate radius, providers could allow patients to see open appointments very near to them.

A disproportionally large percentage of Americans depend exclusively on their primary care provider for appointments and referrals, often subsequently resulting in waiting for weeks or even months just to be seen. A recent study published by the Washington Post illuminates the significant problem of wait times; the average wait time for all specialties, including family practice, was 18.5 days for new patients in metropolitan areas, with even longer averages in more rural areas. Some attribute this to a physician shortage, while others believe that the improving economy has caused more citizens to book appointments. Either way, wait times are a trend that’s expected to rise in this country, that is, unless something is done to disrupt the problem.

The time is now to begin integrating more technology into the ancient habits of America’s healthcare industry. Uber has revolutionized the way our country thinks of individual transportation services. Gone are the days where you might stand for ten minutes trying to hail a taxi. These same improvements of convenience and access are at the fingertips of the nation’s healthcare industry. Now we must make this disruption happen.