Uberization is a term that’s derived from the company name ‘Uber’ and is a neo-euphemism for a highly tele-networked business to hit peak efficiencies in operations, providing highly economical and efficient services. Uberized companies eliminate middlemen and put potential customers into direct contact with service providers. Uberization was a result of the boom in digital technologies that developed in the 20th and 21st centuries, and organizations like Uber, Grab, Airbnb and Lyft are some companies that use the phenomenon to provide services to customers.  Can this enable easier access to healthcare options? Read on to find out.

Uber For Healthcare: A Viable Option?

The healthcare sector works differently compared to other sectors and healthcare providers achieve health outcomes in personable ways. This could be a reason why it is difficult for anyone to uberize healthcare. Uberizing a sector or a service means providing consumers with more convenient options and making services available ‘on-demand’. Although companies like Netflix and Uber have made it easier for people to avail services on demand, it may not work the same way for healthcare. This is because healthcare is a relationship business and health cannot be improved with just one appointment with a physician. It takes time for healthcare professionals to chalk out treatment plans that may span months to achieve good health outcomes. Moreover, the physician has to develop trust and a strong relationship with the patient to treat them successfully. 

Getting healthcare isn’t like renting a DVD, it is similar to getting an education. A patient cannot avail on-demand service to get healthy, and good health is more achievable when there is strength in the relationship between a patient and their primary care physician. This is just like learning an instrument unless there is a good rapport between a teacher and the student, the outcome is not great. Building an ‘Uber’ for learning the piano or the guitar may not work out too well. On-Demand healthcare is already a reality, with an increase in the number of telemedicine and urgent care clinics. Many standalone clinics are also popping up in urban areas, and are attempting to uberize healthcare. However, accessing good healthcare is not as easy as walking in, getting a check-up and walking out with a solution. Although this may work great for problems like sprains, coughs or low fever, transaction-like care increases healthcare costs and have poor health outcomes. Patients get better because there is trust in the physician, who takes a detailed look at their medical history and personalizes the treatment. 

Healthcare: To Uber Or Not  

The reason Uberization is thought of as a solution to healthcare problems is because of the growing gap between patients and quality primary care. The long waits in hospitals and clinics, difficulty in getting appointments with specialists and communication gap between doctors and patients are problems that need to be addressed. However, streamlining insurance options and making the process easier for patients is a much better alternative to uberizing healthcare. Although the Indian government is taking steps to bridge this gap through Universal Healthcare, there are issues like low pay for doctors, low doctor to patient ratio, a weak relationship between physicians and patients, etc. When the government takes these issues into account, physicians will be able to develop better relationships with patients and this will result in positive health outcomes. Technology can be used to drive better health outcomes, make healthcare easier with new apps and tools and forge better patient-doctor relationships. It may be a good alternative that will reduce costs and improve health outcomes.

While some believe that healthcare must not be uberized, others think that uberization could change the way we access healthcare. Even though there are technological advancements in the past decade, the healthcare sector has been slow to warm up to them. Many healthcare apps are already helping patients track their health, weight, and diets to maintain good health. Some think that technological changes if incorporated, may make uberization a reality, and bring a cohesive approach as well as better quality of services by ending waiting lists, low staff, and high healthcare costs. Malaysia is one of the countries that is looking to uberize its healthcare sector. According to Malaysian Deputy Health Minister Dr. Lee Boon Chye, The Ministry of Health (MoH) in Malaysia is planning to uberize healthcare in Malaysia to expand its health services. The ministry plans to introduce apps that enable instant access and booking for tests, treatment, and homecare-based palliative care.