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Uber Starts Offering Rides to Doctors

Uber will bill care providers who sign up for the service monthly based on their usage

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An Uber car drives through LaGuardia Airport in New York. Uber is now offering to take patients in every U.S. market where it operates to their next medical appointment. VOA
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Uber is driving deeper into healthcare by offering to take patients in every U.S. market where it operates to their next medical appointment.

The ride-hailing service said Thursday its Uber Health business will handle rides set up by doctor’s offices or other healthcare providers and then bill that business, not the patient, for the service. The company said rides can be set up within a few hours or days in advance. Patients won’t need access to a smartphone to use the service.

ALSO READ: Worried About Storage Issues? Now Easily Book Uber from Laptop and Tablets

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Uber began testing the service last summer. More than 100 health care providers have signed up including hospitals, clinics, and physical therapy centers. Pixabay

Company leaders said they are expanding because there’s a need. They cite federal government research that estimates that more than 3 million people do not obtain medical care due to transportation problems.

“There are a lot of people out there who are not going to the doctor simply because they can’t physically make it there,” said Uber Health executive Jay Holley.

He added that the service also represents a business opportunity for Uber by connecting the company with a lot of first-time users.

Uber will bill care providers who sign up for the service monthly based on their usage. Holley said some may pass the cost on to their customers, but most of the providers it has worked with so far pay for the rides out of their operating budget.

ALSO READ: Driverless Car: Popular App-based cab Uber gives us a look of what Future Holds!

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Health insurers and others have long recognized the need to help some patients, especially those with low incomes, make their medical appointments. Pexels

Uber rival Lyft offers a similar service called Concierge, which allows healthcare providers to set up rides for patients to get to appointments. The providers pay for the rides. Lyft also has patient transport partnerships with larger healthcare providers.

Molina Healthcare Inc. has offered a transportation benefit to its customers for around 25 years and says that more than 3 million people are eligible. Molina specializes in administering the state- and federally funded Medicaid programs for poor people and the disabled.

Spokeswoman Laura Murray said the insurer found that covering transportation expenses helps patients keep regular appointments and preventive care visits, which can include things like flu shots or checkups. She said that can improve patient health and cut down on unnecessary emergency room visits.

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“Uber is already where the patient lives,”

ALSO READ: Uber suspends its self-driving cars from Roads after crash in US

Adams Clinical runs clinical trials for drug companies and started using Uber Health in the middle of last year. Since then, trial participation has grown and patients have started staying in the studies longer, CEO Nelson Rutrick said.

The Watertown, Massachusetts, company had used taxis before switching to Uber. Rutrick said taxis were more expensive and required advance planning to get a cab to drive an hour or two to pick someone up.

“Uber is already where the patient lives,” he said. (VOA)

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Depression Can Negatively Impact Heart Patients

In another study, the team found that heart attack patients diagnosed with depression were 54 percent more likely to be hospitalised

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Over 5 crore people in India are known to suffer depressive disorders Pixabay
Over 5 crore people in India are known to suffer depressive disorders Pixabay

Depression, even when undiagnosed, can have many negative effects on patients with cardiovascular diseases, including poor healthcare experiences and higher health costs, say researchers.

The study found that people at high risk of depression were more than five times more likely to have a poor self-perceived health status and almost four times more likely to be dissatisfied with their healthcare.

The intake of probiotics may prevent depression
Heart diseases can be worsened by Depression. Wikimedia Commons

Patients at high risk of depression had notably worse healthcare-related quality of life. They spent more on overall and out-of-pocket healthcare expenditures yearly.

They were more than two times more likely to be hospitalised and have an increased use of the emergency room, said the researchers while presenting the results at the American Heart Association’s Quality of Care and Outcomes Research Scientific Sessions 2018 in Virginia.

Also Read: Knee pain can trigger depression in elderly

“This could be because people at high risk for depression simply haven’t been diagnosed and treated for depression yet,” said Victor Okunrintemi, a research student at Baptist Health South Florida, a US-based non-profit.

In another study, the team found that heart attack patients diagnosed with depression were 54 per cent more likely to be hospitalised and 43 per cent more likely to have emergency room visits, compared to those not diagnosed with depression.

depression
Depression can be worsen. Wikimedia Commons

“Depression and heart attack often coexist, which has been associated with worse health experiences for these patients,” Okunrintemi said. About one-fifth of cardiovascular disease patients suffer from depression. “While we don’t know which comes first — depression or cardiovascular disease — the consensus is that depression is a risk marker for cardiovascular disease,” Okunrintemi said.

It means that “if you have cardiovascular disease, there is a higher likelihood that you could also have depression, when compared with the risk in the general population”, he added. IANS