Startups left and right say their goal is to be the Uber of their industry, providing the radicalized, consumer-centric, on-demand service that Uber did for transportation. But this term has become a catch-all for any sort of innovation, and it also unrealistic — at least for healthcare.
A large part of Uber's success stems from its premiere as the first true digital disruptor in an industry ripe for change — transportation. It met a need. Suddenly, people could summon a car to their location with a few taps on their touch-screen phones and no longer deal with hailing taxi cabs or worrying about payment at the end of a ride.
Now, Uberization in any other industry refers to an on-demand, convenient option that consumers want. Consumers seek a hassle-free exchange that places a premium on convenience — so convenient that you don't have to say anything to anyone if you don't want to.
But we're in an era where stakeholders are pushing to bring the human element back into healthcare. Many providers voice disdain with required technology, saying it detracts from their time and relationships with patients. Researchers from Northwestern University have physicians using EHRs spend about a third of the patient visit looking at a screen, and just that time spent looking away causes patients' satisfaction to drop.
This is one of the key reasons an Uber for healthcare isn't feasible. Where Uber automates and simplifies a process that, aside from requiring a human driver, doesn't require much else, healthcare interactions are personal and can't be replaced with a screen and app.