Tag Archives: technology

6 Problems with an “Uber-ized” healthcare

Uber photo

by Marc Edwards, B.Sc., PMP, MBA

In my prior post I talked about some of the opportunities available for an Uber-ization of healthcare. However, there are many obstacles as well that should be considered. Some of these are quite obvious and others not so much. Quickly, here are a few:

1.            Electronic health records (EHRs)

What role would an EHR play in an Uber-ized environment and how will this new Uber-like software interact with the EHR? Will there be much data sharing? If not, this would be a missed opportunity of significant proportions as the amount of data collected will be colossal and could be used to help treat the patient more effectively. Making this information available through an EHR would help facilitate the logistics between this new software, hospitals, and other health providing clinics.

2.            The matter of health insurance

What would be the role of health insurers in this new environment? I imagine that they would not find this new scenario ideal. Logically, this new Uber-ization of healthcare should lower the cost of healthcare overall by increasing the availability and access to healthcare, making health insurance less vital to the average American. Of course, for those of us who live in countries with subsidized healthcare, this is not an issue.

3.            Qualifications

How will the owners of this new software ensure that the health consultants providing medical advice are indeed qualified to do so? As I mentioned in previous posts, it will be a major hurdle to assure the public that this new platform will not be inhibited by quacks and frauds. And how will the software owners confirm that the credentials of the health consultants are accurate? Logistically, this would be a difficult feat indeed.

4.            Prescriptions

What about prescriptions? How does one get a prescription filled for medicine that they desperately need in this new environment? Do we now have to consider electronic prescriptions? The opportunity for misuse would be great in this instance. In addition, the health provider must take into account the patient’s medical history and the prescriptions that they have taken in the past and what they are taking right now, information that could be available in an EHR (see point #1).

5.            Physical diagnoses

And how will physical diagnoses work? Would it be enough just to take a photo of an aliment and send it to the provider? What about those problems that can be diagnosed, in part, by touch? How would that work in an Uber-ized environment?

6.            Privacy & Information Governance

With an Uber-ized healthcare, we will need to address the privacy question. How will our health information do you protected? Do any of the devices used to access this software need to be encrypted? And how will the companies that make these devices manage this? Would the companies by responsible for this or would the consumers of these devices be responsible? Where will the health information be stored? Will the companies housing such information have the appropriate safeguards in place? What will happen in the instance of a privacy breach and who would be responsible? How will the information be protected? Giving the value of health information to the user and a potential hacker, privacy and information governance may prove to be the most important aspect of them all.


While all of these questions may seems daunting, it’s important to realize that technology changes usually come first with the legislation and behavioral changes coming afterwards. Therefore, although an Uber-ized healthcare seems far-fetched and to some, a crazy idea, one shouldn’t be surprised if such a platform is developed within the next few years. The challenge for all of us will be to deal with such a phenomenon when it does occur taking all of the above into consideration. What else should we consider in the event of a new Uber-ized healthcare?

3 Opportunities for an “Uber-ized” Healthcare


3 Opportunities for an “Uber-ized” Healthcare

by Marc Edwards, B.Sc., PMP, MBA

In my previous post, I talked about one author’s perspective on a future “Uber-ized” healthcare system, and after given it some thought, I have come up with some opportunities that we can expect in the future that will make all of this more feasible.

  1. We all have access to a lot of medical knowledge

Simply go to any web browser an you can have access to a vast medical knowledge base at your fingertips, greater than ever in human history. Think of all of the different websites where one could go to get medical information:

  • Medicine/health oriented websites, like WebMD
  • YouTube
  • Wikipedia

In addition, more health apps and wearable devices allow the average person to track and record many aspects of their own personal health information. Some of these devices include:

  • Activity trackers, like FitBit
  • Smart watches
  • Smart phones
  • Singular home devices (e.g. blood pressure machines, diabetic devices)

The potential for this information ever increases as we not only have access to greater amounts of health knowledge, but we will also have greater access to our own personal health information.

  1. Increasing medical costs make alternatives more attractive

Healthcare costs are rising everywhere, especially in the Western world, where healthcare costs are increasingly becoming giant anchors to governmental budgets. The Uber-ization of healthcare could theoretically bring down costs as demand for beds decrease and home care becomes easier due to this “Uber-ization”. Mobile devices may allow users to video conference each other via apps like Facetime, so it’s not too difficult to envision a future where a health provider can use such tech to observe a patient taking his medicine as prescribed, or to diagnose a skin aliment that another patient is suffering from. There is obviously strong benefits to having this technology available, especially for patients with mobility issues, concerns about paying for transportation to hospitals or clinics, and just basically gives healthcare access to those of us who are generally prone to avoid a visit to the doctor’s office.

  1. Continual advancement of technology

One of the successes of Uber has been to narrow the knowledge gap between the taxi driver and rider so that intricate knowledge of the urban landscape is available to anyone with a computer connected to the Internet. GIS technology has obviously been an important player in this relationship. To this point, can an Uber-ization of healthcare bring about self-diagnosis? This is a very important question as it will directly impact the business model of what we are proposing here. Are we really talking about removing the healthcare provider from the circle of care? What’s missing is that “GIS-type” technology that narrows the knowledge gap between provider and patient. It’s obviously hard to predict the future but if I try, I would say that the equalizing tech could consist of two things:

  1. Tech (wearables?) that can easily measure blood tests/heart rate/blood pressure, maybe through either spit or sweat
  2. Artificial intelligence that aggregates the above data, crawls online medical content, and merges it with any patient photos taken, in order to make a diagnosis

In my previous post, I expressed some doubt about the feasibility of an Uber for healthcare because I was focused on humans continuing to provide healthcare. However, it is becoming apparent to me that technology, not us, may be the primary healthcare provider of the future. My next post will speak to the challenges of an Uber-ized healthcare but in the meanwhile, let me know what you think.