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Uber Health Head on NEMT Competition: 'This is Not a Winner-Take-All Market'

By Jack O'Brien  
   June 20, 2019

Just over a month after going public, Uber Health's head executive discusses how the ridesharing company plans to differentiate its offerings from the competition.

Dan Trigub says he has worked at the "intersection of ridesharing and healthcare" for the past three years.

Trigub, the former regional vice president of healthcare for Lyft, has served as the head of Uber Health since December 2018.

Related: Lyft Exec on Mission: 'Get Patients Everywhere They Need to Go'

He says that in conversations with payers and providers about incorporating ridesharing into healthcare, executives have gone from skeptics to believers because of the credibility Uber and other ridesharing companies have accrued in recent years. In 2017, ridesharing became legal across the country, and both Uber and Lyft debuted on Wall Street this spring with multi-billion dollar initial public offerings. 

Now, just over a month after Uber went public with a goal of continuing to expand its operations, Trigub spoke with HealthLeaders about how the San Francisco–based ridesharing company can compete in the non-emergency medical transportation (NEMT) space and the potential to branch into other adjacent areas of medical transport. 

This transcript has been lightly edited for brevity and clarity.

HealthLeaders: How will Uber differentiate its product in the competitive medical transport space?

Trigub: For us at Uber, this falls directly in line with our mission and vision to serve all populations globally. Uber is available in more than 600 cities across 64 countries on six continents. We have more than 900,000 drivers just here in the U.S.

Healthcare is not just a U.S. problem, it's a global [issue] that we can have an impact on.

The other thing for us, is we believe we have this tremendous platform. We see Uber as a platform beyond just moving people. That includes our [Uber Eats] business, the largest meal-serving delivery platform in the world—outside of China.

When we think about our ability to have an impact in healthcare, that can also include things like pharmaceutical delivery, durable medical equipment delivery, or getting a hot, healthy meal to somebody in a food desert.

Related: Uber Goes Public, Following Lyft on Healthcare Transportation Angle

HL: So, pharmaceutical delivery might be a long-term healthcare goal Uber is looking at?

Trigub: We're definitely exploring to see if that's something where we can have an impact in the long term. With everything I just described, we feel that we went about [our operations] from day one with healthcare in mind. 

We feel like we built a healthcare organization within a large technology company and built an infrastructure designed for healthcare. We are HIPAA-compliant, so we wanted to make sure that the way we treat and store data, the way our team is built, is designed for healthcare.

That's why you see Uber Health as its own standalone entity within Uber; that foundation is critical as we start doing more things in the future.

HL: What conversations have you had with providers and payers in terms of extending or establishing relationships?

Trigub: There's a growing interest around social determinants of health across payers and providers. I was recently talking to the CFO of a large provider network and he was saying that they were looking at paying for somebody to get to church or paying for somebody to get to a social activity, because they know that has a profound impact on [patient] health outcomes.

I think there's a growing appetite for addressing things like food insecurity. By 2020, Humana wants to improve health outcomes by 20% in the communities that they serve, and it seems like addressing food insecurity is a key component of that.

Related: Ford GoRide CEO on Medical Expansion: 'We're Not Just In It to Move People Around'

The nice thing about what we're doing at Uber Health is that it's not some crazy [concept] in terms of artificial intelligence or blockchain. It's as simple as getting somebody to food, a social activity, or a doctor.

More payers and providers are looking at ways to leverage our solutions to make that happen. Many payers, especially, are starting to look at 2020 [enrollment] planning and many of them are [interested] in corporate transportation.

HL: Where do you see the intersection of ridesharing and healthcare going forward?

Trigub: We are at the tip of the iceberg. I think we're going to see deeper partnerships and integration with large payer networks, whether with Medicare Advantage, Medicare, or Medicaid. On the commercial side, I think more people are starting to see the data and metrics around the impact that transportation can have. Sometimes, it can be a double-edged sword with overutilization because ridesharing is so cost effective on a per-ride basis.

[Ridesharing is] so much easier to access, so it has to be carefully planned and thought through in terms of how that benefit is provided, while also not encouraging overutilization. There's going to be a lot of work done on figuring out the right structure in terms of the types of rides, the number of rides, and the reimbursement models.

That said, I think incorporating solutions that Uber Health has beyond just moving people, whether that's meal delivery, pharmaceutical delivery, etc., those are going to be part of the way things are put together for these large payer networks and providers.

HL: Is there any fear that the competition is going to be centered on the NEMT space or do you think it's going to branch into different sectors of healthcare?

Trigub: This is not a winner-take-all-market. I don't think there's going to be one player that emerges as the dominant leader in NEMT. I think choice is what's best for providers as well as patients and plan members. It's ultimately about what's the best service for the best price on the best platform.

Jack O'Brien is the finance editor at HealthLeaders, a Simplify Compliance brand.

Photo credit: NEW YORK CITY - MAY 10, 2019: Uber Technologies Inc. (NYSE: UBER) becomes a public company via an initial public offering IPO on the New York Stock Exchange. Ride sharing transportation services - Image / Editorial credit: NYCStock / Shutterstock.com


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