CVS Health is continuing its tread on the path to health equity with a new partnership with Uber Health.
The collaboration, part of the pharmacy giant’s Health Zones initiative, will give people in underserved communities free rides to medical care, work or education.
Those rides, coordinated by Uber’s healthcare arm, will be available to high-risk populations in Atlanta; Columbus, Ohio; and Hartford, Connecticut, leveraging ride-sharing technology to reduce barriers to care.
"We've long known that access to reliable transportation can help address critical gaps in care that often disproportionately affect vulnerable communities. With the past two years of the pandemic only further highlighting today's health inequities, it's more important than ever for communities to have the tools they need to bridge care gaps and achieve better patient and population health outcomes," said Caitlin Donovan, global head of Uber Health, in a statement. "Uber Health is proud to be a part of CVS Health's new Health Zones initiative and encourages community organizations to address transportation as a key social determinant of health while improving health outcomes in a scalable way."
Lack of transportation can be a significant hurdle to seeking adequate medical care, forcing patients to delay or miss appointments, which can lead to worse health outcomes.
Uber Health launched in 2018 to confront those hurdles. More than 2,000 health organizations use its HIPAA-compliant solution, according to the company.
It’s not the only ride-sharing app digging into healthcare. Lyft, Uber’s biggest ride-hailing competitor, expanded its services last April to include nonemergency medical transportation paid for by the health organization.
Uber also partnered with CVS’s rival Walgreens last year to offer free rides to COVID-19 vaccinations at the competing retail chain’s stores and offsite vaccine clinics.
CVS’s Health Zones initiative, which invests in programs to tackle health disparities in high-risk communities, operates in five U.S. markets, with plans to up that number as the year progresses.
The initiative builds on the retail pharmacy’s overarching health equity efforts, which include advancing access to COVID-19 testing and vaccinations and promoting affordable housing and education.
CVS Health invested $185 million in affordable housing across the country in 2021.
"Our Health Zones initiative allows us to make a real impact on the health of communities across the country by working closely with organizations that share our commitment to addressing social determinants of health," said Eileen Howard Boone, senior vice president of corporate social responsibility & philanthropy and chief sustainability officer at CVS Health, in a statement.
"With the Uber Health platform, we'll provide critical transportation to people within communities who need it most, giving them access to healthcare services so they can live healthier lives and to jobs and educational programs that can help them reach their full potential," Boone said.