RWJBarnabas, looking to increase ability of patients to get services, starts program with Uber

RWJBarnabas Health announced its patients can now use Uber Health to avoid missing appointments due to lack of access to transportation.

The ride-hailing and -sharing company officially launched the new, HIPAA-compliant feature in March, after creating pilots around the country, including at Hackensack Meridian Health. It is also being used by Nutley physical therapy company Pro Staff Institute.

The service is only available at Jersey City Medical Center, for now, but eventually will expand systemwide.

The feature allows the health providers to provide on-demand and prescheduled trips. Providers can monitor their spend, as well as keep better track of patients who are on their way, RWJBH officials said.

“We know transportation can be a barrier in accessing necessary health services and we are pleased to partner with Uber Health to help address this need,” CEO Barry Ostrowsky said. “Our goal has always been to make health care more accessible. With Uber Health, we can reduce transportation barriers for patients traveling to primary care appointments and follow-up care visits and provide a safe ride home after being discharged from the hospital.”

Jim Smith, vice president of the Mobile Health Services and Patient Transport Division of RWJBarnabas Health, said the initiative will help RWJBarnabas increase its ability to provide services.

“Patients often cite transportation as a reason for missing or rescheduling appointments,” he said. “The lack of transportation inhibits access to care.

“We are thrilled to work with Uber Health. This initiative is just another way we are committing to expanding the access to care as well as the performance and stability of RWJBH’s transport services.”

Uber Health will be available to ambulatory patients, only, who are in need of transportation. It will supplement existing transportation infrastructure which includes taxi vouchers and shuttle and van services.

“Uber Health is focused on equipping innovative health care providers such as RWJBarnabas Health with the tools they need to provide patients with the best possible experience,” Jay Holley, head of partnerships at Uber Health, said. “(Studies show) 3.6 million Americans miss health care appointments every year due to lack of reliable transportation. We’re excited to partner with RWJBarnabas Health in efforts to eliminate transportation as a barrier to care.”