Practo, an app that lets people search for and book appointments with doctors, has teamed up with ride-sharing company Uber.
The collaboration enables Practo users to book an Uber vehicle in advance through a reminder issued for their medical appointments. Upon booking, the Uber driver will be given the destination of the medical appointment, while users can see the estimated fare and waiting time.
Practo, which launched in 2008 and is now the most popular doctor search engine in Asia, is initially running the partnership with Uber as a pilot in Singapore, India, Indonesia and the Philippines.
New users who book their first doctor’s appointment on Practo can use the code “UBERPRACTOSG” to claim two free rides, up to the value of SG$20 (US$14) until 31 December 2015. The next phase of integration will use Uber’s newest feature, Ride Reminders, to notify patients an hour before their appointment about their lift arriving so they don’t run late.
Used by more than one million patients every month throughout Asia, Practo lists more than 120,000 verified doctors and clinic profiles. The app is currently available in 10 countries in Southeast Asia, the Middle East, Eastern Europe and Latin America. Both Uber and Practo want to expand the partnership to cover more territories.
The partnership follows Uber’s recent launch of uberASSIST, a service where specially trained drivers cater to the transportation needs of the elderly and disabled.
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Practical help. Transport to and from clinics – in addition to finding parking nearby – can be a worry, particularly for the elderly or the infirm. This lifts the pressure by seamlessly integrating Uber into the Practo app in a way that’s similar to how Uber X quotes have been integrated into Google Maps when users search for directions. That integration reframes using an Uber car as a no-brainer, even for those patients who are fully mobile. It also helps position Practo as being on the patient’s side, considering not just their medical needs but the entire experience of visiting a doctor.
Uber’s caring side. This partnership, as well as potentially generating additional revenue for Uber, enables the company to show off its more caring side. Particularly following the UberASSIST announcement, where for the same price as an UberX ride, the company’s most basic and most used service, passengers can be helped in and out of the vehicle and have their wheelchairs and walkers folded for them, Uber appears to be making a real effort to build some positive brand equity.
Demonstrating features. As many Uber customers use the service on the fly, this is a smart way to show that Uber vehicles can be booked in advance. It’s also a good way to demonstrate the new Ride Reminder tool to help people stay on top of their appointments and arrive on time.
Integrating digital experiences in the health care realm is not a new idea. What was novel as recent as five years ago has become somewhat commonplace. An app that can detect skin cancer? Check. Need an app to assist in your diabetes diagnostics? Check. If you can dream it, chances are the digital universe has conjured up an app that will deliver.
But while all of these apps offer tomes of information to the patients who seek it, the sweet spot to creating better outcomes for patients begins when the convenience offered by the app intersects with access to physicians who treat them. The Practo and Uber partnership finds this shared value and delivers in a way the app alone would fall short.
In my opinion the best ideas are the ones that make you smack your forehead and say, “Duh! Why didn’t I think of that?” Profound, I know. But, this is certainly one of those cases when the simplicity is absolute genius. Patients have access to physicians at their fingertips, the convenience of stress-free transportation to shuttle them to their appointment and, by doing so, the operational and business challenge of missed appointments faced by physician offices is mitigated.
Well done, Practo. Not much I’d change outside of this one small suggestion: Perhaps you can disinfect the interior of the Uber after your patients are dropped off. Not sure I’d want to be next in line otherwise.