The Uber Experience for Healthcare

Originally published on MedCity News.

You tap on your phone. A car pulls up wherever you are, whatever the time is. You get in. Your phone does all the work, and you arrive at your destination. No more being stranded on the curb at 2 am. No more getting lost. And no more awkward feelings about tip to fee ratio. This is the Uber experience. It’s a simple and beautiful experience where everyone wins. Drivers earn more money. Consumers get more accessibility, comfort, and convenience. Why doesn’t this exist in our healthcare experience?

Patient accessibility is currently one of the hottest topics in digital health, and rightly so. As the key decision makers in their health, patients are seeking more access to their physicians, more flexibility, and more convenience than ever. Patient accessibility is important. Lack of accessibility results in noncompliant patients, leading to higher healthcare costs and unhealthy patients.

I realized the importance of patient access while working with a 21-year-old chronically ill patient at a primary care facility in Brooklyn. The patient, let’s call him Thomas, was chronically obese, and suffering from diabetes and high cholesterol. The doctor had put him on a treatment plan with three-month recurring visits.

Thomas did not comply with his treatment plan; he would not even show up to the office. In response to Thomas’ noncompliance, the doctor started visiting Thomas at home.

It’s easy to shift the blame of noncompliance on the patient’s shoulder. To us, the patient was irresponsible. It is his fault for not doing more for himself. And at the office, we did shift the blame on Thomas.

However, a few months later while working on a diabetes app and after talking to Thomas, I realized that the problem is not with Thomas. Our office experience is just too difficult.

For Thomas to book or reschedule his appointment, he would have to call, be put on hold (or asked to press 3), and then wait some more until the staff was done dealing with another patient. And if Thomas realized he needed to reschedule his appointment? He’d have to start the phone process all over again. If he needed to reschedule after hours? Good luck.

After Thomas booked his appointment, he’d come into the office, check-in to a clipboard, and then wait an average of 45 minutes just to see the physician for 15 minutes. To Thomas, it was not worth the hassle.

What if he had questions about his medicine, treatment plan or needed to ask a question after his visit? Thomas would have to go through the phone process again, only to find out that the physician is busy with a patient.

This broken patient experience is what lead to Thomas’ noncompliance. Lack of accessibility is leading to thousands of patients like Thomas finding it difficult to stay active and engaged with their health.

Around the time I was grappling with these questions, Uber launched in NYC. I had an epiphany. If I can have such easy access to my taxi, why can’t Thomas have the same access to our office?

With NexHealth, we aim to do just that. NexHealth gives patients access to their doctors’ offices anytime and anywhere through all digital channels: app, web, email, and even text messaging.

For a patient like Thomas, booking an appointment is a tap away on his smartphone. Any questions he has about his health or visit? He can simply message the office.

When it’s time for him to come into the office, he is automatically checked-in via geolocation. Through the data on file in his smartphone, Thomas’ insurance and forms are taken care of.

After his visit, Thomas is able to leave his feedback or ask any questions he might have. His copayment is automatically processed as well. Through NexHealth, all Thomas has to do is tap twice on his smartphone to book an appointment, and everything else is taken care of for him. The NexHealth experience is a simple and beautiful healthcare experience.

Uber has revolutionized the transportation industry by giving people access to transportation anywhere and anytime, while making sure the drivers can also be more profitable. NexHealth aims to do the same to our healthcare industry by giving patients access to their doctors anytime and anywhere, while also helping doctors offices save time and earn more by seeing more patients. Everybody wins.