Author(s): Raghu Gopal
Uber is partnering with a London start-up company called Cera, which works with the National Health Service (NHS) to offer non-emergency care-related services to the elderly. Cera acts as a matchmaking service finding an appropriate care provider for patients seeking assistance. The company says it guarantees to find and offer proper personnel within four hours. Like Uber, Cera uses an app-based approach to improve efficiencies in the marketplace.
Under the deal, Uber will provide transport services to Cera patients, enabling them to hail vehicles using the Uber app for journeys such as hospital appointments.
Cera mainly provides private healthcare services, but it has also signed deals with several London hospitals belonging to the NHS, Britain's publicly funded health body, meaning Uber is not working directly with the NHS. Rather, transportation work is being outsourced to Uber by Cera.
Uber has created a giant transportation network that can be repurposed to meet specific needs beyond place-to-place passenger transportation. For example, UberEats is a service specifically for food delivery. But formal patient transportation is a new angle for the company and one that it hopes will give it a new level of credibility. Uber's image could certainly benefit from a polish as it reels from allegations that it fostered a sexist and aggressive work environment.
Those requiring care will be able to book cars through UberAssist, which offers disabled-access vehicles, and through UberWav, which provides cars for wheelchair users. Uber claims that UberAssist drivers have undertaken the required training to assist disabled passengers.
Cera's ambition is to tackle bed-blocking in the NHS, which it claims could save £500 million per year (about $612 million), and relieve pressure on the UK's social care services by partnering with councils and hospitals. This would see its services integrated with the public care system and allow people to stay in their homes longer.
Uber has become a noun in many Western countries, synonymous with being a taxi substitute. But the company is eager to establish itself in other areas. It has created an ecosystem for things to be delivered from point A to point B. Moving patients could be serious business for Uber. It could enhance its reputation in the UK and beyond now that the app economy is reaching a new level of significance.