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Lessons from Uber car service: Take hassle out of healthcare

July 2nd, 2014

by Anthony Cirillo

I was in theDistrict of Columbia in April, and at a meeting the idle chitchat turned to a lively conversation about Uber. Ever heard of it? I hadn't.

Uber, through the Uber App, seamlessly connects riders to drivers. At its basic level, it is a cross between taxi and car service. Founded in 2009, it is in 70 cities today. And taxi companies are not too happy.

See, Uber takes the yucky out of the taxi experience and then enhances that experience with the mobile app. I was in New York City for my birthday. Having downloaded the app, I said to my wife, "Let's try this." All I can say is, "Wow."


Yucky moment: Hailing a taxi

With Uber, there's no need to find the busiest street corner and try to hail a taxi. On the app, you enter your location and where you want to go and you can get a fare quote. Satisfied? Then request a driver. No need to move from where you are. You can track the driver on the app as you watch the car icon get closer. The app informs you of the estimated time and the driver can call you to make sure he or she is going to the right place and knows for whom to look. That's because when you filled out your profile, you provided your phone number.

Three times I used the app and within minutes the driver was there. (A fourth excursion was by subway. Check out Uber's cousin, Hop Stop, for a similar metro experience. They are not affiliated by the way.)

All of the cars were nice, the drivers friendly.

Yucky moment: Paying for the Taxi

With Uber, your credit card is on file. The fare quote you receive includes a tip. No cash is ever exchanged. It is seamless. You simply get out of the car and get on your way. No trying to count out cash and doing the math on a tip.

Yucky moment: Luck of the draw on what kind of driver who shows up

All of our drivers were incredibly friendly. And they were incredibly happy to be working for the car service. They talked about having less pressure, making their own hours. Make no mistake, these drivers are screened thoroughly and with every ride you rate them on the app. All of my drivers received fives, the highest score. So hiring for fit assures you have a pleasant ride with a pleasant driver. And, while I have not experienced this yet, drivers tell me that they get to rate passengers and bad passengers could be banned from using the service.

I probably did a great job of selling you on Uber. But here is the healthcare correlation.

We have thousands of yucky moments in the healthcare experience. Instead of mapping the experience, we should start looking at the real acute messes in the experience of care. Uber nailed it--hailing a taxi and paying the bill.

What are your yucky moments? Fix them and I bet experiences will improve dramatically.

Anthony Cirillo, is president of Fast Forward Consulting, which specializes in experience management and strategic marketing for healthcare facilities. He also is the expert guide in Assisted Living for


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