Uber Health Eyes Meal Delivery, Caregiver-Driving Partnerships

When ride-hailing companies first came on the scene nearly 10 years ago, they were rarely — if ever — associated with health care. But today, both industry giants Uber (NYSE: UBER) and Lyft (Nasdaq: LYFT) have growing health care divisions that are frequent partners of home-based care providers.

In our latest episode of Disrupt, Home Health Care News talked to a man who helped develop them both: Dan Trigub. The current head of Uber Health came to the San Francisco-based company last year following a two-year stint at Lyft.

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Today, Trigub — who himself has a background in the home-based care world — says home care is one of his division’s fastest growing verticals.

It’s anyone’s guess where that growth will take the $70 billion publicly traded company in the years to come. But when it comes to the health division, Trigub has his sights set on at least two areas in particular: Medicare Advantage (MA) meal delivery and driving partnerships for caregivers.

You can find Trigub’s conversation with HHCN below, edited for length and clarity.

HHCN: I want to start my diving into your background. This isn’t your first foray into home care — or in combining it with ride-hailing, for that matter. Tell me a little bit about how you got to where you are today.

Trigub: Home care is an area that’s very close to my heart.

My entire family immigrated to the U.S. from the former Soviet Union. My grandmother came here, and she was in her 90s — very ambulatory, in good health for the most part. And I was certainly a caregiver for her, along with my father.

She lived in New York City by herself when she came to the U.S., and she would never, ever leave her apartment, until maybe about once a week or so when my father and I would come visit her from New Jersey.

I always saw how transportation [and] mobility were so important to her well-being and independence — and the power that transportation could have in that equation.

Additionally, my wife’s family has been in the home care business for over 15 years here in the Bay Area. I always saw that industry from afar. I was very entrenched and got to learn a lot about it through [my father-in-law’s] experiences. Because of those experiences, I actually started my own startup in the senior care space.

I had the opportunity to join Lyft about three years ago to help grow and scale their health care operations, with a focus on elder care. Since then, I came here to Uber, where I lead Uber Health.

Since you joined Uber Health, how has that division of the business changed — whether it’s in terms of growth, focus, strategy, going public or anything else?

Even three years ago when I first started at the intersection of ride-hailing and health care, the question was: “What the heck is a ride-share company doing in health care? You’re just taking a millenial to a bar on a Friday night, and that’s what you’re used for.”

But that couldn’t be further from the truth. What Uber Health can do for our aging, low-income, at-risk population is tremendous. Care begins with getting to the care.

When we look at social determinants of health and, now, health plans [doing] everything from meal delivery to grocery delivery to even paying for somebody to go to church or to a social activity, transportation is at the core of all of that.

We really approached this by saying, “What does a $70 billion public technology company need to do to be able to build a health care organization within its structure?”

That came down to making sure we built it right from day one.We had to make sure not only that it was compliant, but that it met the needs of our partners, and I think we’ve done a lot of that.

Uber Health has now been live for over a year. It’s been in development for over two years, and it’s an exciting time for us to continue to grow and scale our business.

You’ve said that Uber has more than 1,000 partners in the health space. Can you tell me how many of those are home-based care providers and where they fit into the equation?

We don’t break down our revenue by any specific segment.

Today … we have many home care partners who see benefits to their day-to-day operations by having us as a solution for them. This certainly is a growing area of focus and a growing vertical within our overall business.

We want good partners. As long as they’re a good standing business, we want to work with them.

Can you highlight any home-based care relationships that you’re especially excited about?

One I love talking about … is an organization called 123 Home Care. 123 Home Care has really leaned into their relationship with Uber Health. They’ve actually created a solution that they call 123 Easy Rides. They have their own website and platform where their customers can go to learn more.

At the core of it, 123 Home Care is not a transportation company. That’s not their core offering, but they’ve seen and embraced how transportation is so important to their customers and their clients.

Another example is 24 Hour Home Care. They’ve really leaned into providing higher levels of service, higher quality care to their customers and leveraging transportation and Uber Health to empower their customers to be more independent … [and] to go where and when they need.

God forbid a caregiver uses their own vehicle [and] gets into an accident. There’s certain insurance they’re required to have, [but] many of them don’t have it. Now they can lean in and leverage Uber Health to allow their caregivers to provide transportation in an Uber vehicle.

Now what about results? Some people doubt that ride-share can make a meaningful impact on addressing social determinants of health like missed medical appointments. For example, a study that came out of Penn Medicine found that ridesharing partnerships didn’t really change the rate of missed medical appointments.

Let’s not forget about caregivers. Caregivers call all the time: “My car broke down. I can’t get to my appointment. I’ve got to cancel. What do I do?”

Now [home-based care providers] can leverage this to help their caregivers be more efficient, be more productive [and] get to their appointments.

The other thing is we’ve seen caregivers can do a much better job. They can sit in the back seat, attend to their client, focus on them and not have to focus on all the headaches that come with vehicle ownership.

That’s just on the caregiver side.

On the flipside with clients, there was just recently a study published by Boston Medical Center, one of our large health system partners. We reduced costs for the hospital and their operations. We reduced no-shows and missed appointments, and we ultimately increased patient satisfaction.

There was that one study that you allude to … but I think it was one small sample, one small data set [and] a population where it might not have made as much sense for them.

But certainly, for our elderly, low-income, at-risk populations I feel confident that transportation is critical.

We’ve talked before about Medicare Advantage and how that’s an area of interest for your team. In fact, you have a dedicated team talking to payers and looking to build partnerships. Can you give us any updates on how developing those partnerships is going?

There’s been a lot of growth and a lot of excitement on the Medicare Advantage side. We haven’t publicly announced any direct partnerships there, but stay tuned.

We’re really excited by MA plans and guidance from CMS pushing for transportation and being able to cover non-emergency medical transportation.

Many MA plans have guidance from CMS around being able to cover grocery and meal delivery, as well. Uber today has the largest meal-delivery platform in the world outside of China with Uber Eats.

We think getting a hot, healthy meal to someone in a food dessert is an area we can lean into with MA plans — as well as commercial payers, where there’s a lot of appetite there as well.

If you had to make a bold prediction for Uber Health a year from now, where will it be?

The possibilities are endless.

We can lean into this platform for health: that includes meal delivery, pharmaceutical delivery and durable medical equipment delivery. Just like Amazon first started with books but now does quite a breadth of services, we started as a ride service but the future is endless.

In the home care vertical specifically, it’s really: How do we also embed those products and services for our home care agencies? They may be interested in looking at things like meal delivery. We’ve seen that.

Then also helping provide better solutions for their caregivers and staff. Caregivers are typically hourly employees who are overworked and underpaid, [so] looking at extra sources of income is really important to them. Are there opportunities to help them become even driver partners on the Uber network? We’ve seen some interest there from our home care partners and network.

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