Uber may be reducing ambulance use, research suggests

Patients may be using ambulances less frequently in favor of ride-sharing services such as Uber, according to a working paper co-authored by David Slusky, PhD, assistant professor of economics at the University of Kansas and Leon Moskatel, MD, an internist at San Diego's Scripps Mercy Hospital.

The study authors examined 766 cities in 43 states Uber services from 2013 to 2015. The authors found after UberX was introduced into the market, there was a 7 percent decrease in ambulance volume.

Ambulance use has decreased partly because patients lack other means of transportation and would use alternate means of transport if possible, especially if the transportation was less costly than an ambulance, the authors wrote.

Dr. Slusky said one alternative explanation to the findings could be that the ride-sharing service reduced ambulance need because it decreased drunk-driving related accidents. However, the evidence is too mixed to believe that less drunk driving is the primary reason why ambulance volume decreased, Dr. Slusky added.

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