Uber announces integration with Cerner EHR system for U.S. providers

LAS VEGAS—In a move to deepen its ties to healthcare providers, Uber Health is collaborating with Cerner to embed its platform into the health IT company's electronic health record (EHR) system.

The integration will make it easier for healthcare providers to schedule nonemergency transportation for patients, caregivers and staff, the two companies announced at the HLTH conference in Las Vegas Monday morning.

The partnership will help reduce transportation barriers that can lead to delayed care, poor management of chronic conditions and declining health outcomes for patients, Uber Health and Cerner executives said.

The integration of Uber's platform with Cerner's EHR also will streamline operations and support greater interoperability, according to the companies. Providers who use Cerner's EHR will be able to access the tools to book transportation directly from the Cerner EHR. A patient’s information, including name, phone number and pick-up address, will auto-populate from Cerner technology directly into a ride request with Uber, the Kansas City-based health IT company said.

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The integration will be available to Cerner-client hospitals and health systems in the near future. The company is in the process of optimizing the integration with Cerner's apps, officials said.

Uber launched Uber Health, its healthcare arm, in March 2018, and the platform saw 400% year-on-year growth in the second quarter of 2019 compared to the second quarter of 2018, Uber CEO Dara Khosrowshahi said during the company's second-quarter 2019 earnings call Aug. 8.

Both Uber and Lyft have been pushing deeper into the healthcare space with provider-requested ride services.

Also in March 2018, Uber Health rolled out a HIPAA-compliant dashboard that providers can use to set up rides for patients, caregivers and staff. An Uber Health API allows for integration into existing healthcare products and for transportation to be scheduled for follow-up appointments while still at the healthcare facility. 

On the heels of that move, Lyft upped its competition with Uber when it announced a partnership with Allscripts to integrate the ride-hailing company’s API with the Sunrise EHR system. The companies said service would reach roughly 7 million patients via 180,000 physicians in 2,500 hospitals and 45,000 practices.

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"Joining forces with Cerner marks a new chapter for Uber Health and our mission to provide accessible, efficient transportation for patients and caregivers,” Dan Trigub, head of Uber Health, said in a statement.

"Reliable transportation to and from appointments can help reduce operating costs, patient no-show rates and help improve patient outcomes. Our goal is to simplify the way healthcare providers can access transportation options—and our work together will accomplish just that," Trigub said.

An estimated 3.6 million patients reportedly cannot access healthcare due to lack of transportation, which can lead to more emergency room visits and hidden costs for patients, caregivers, providers and insurers.

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Craig Anderson, director of innovation at BayCare, a Clearwater, Florida-based health system that uses Cerner's EHR system, said Uber Health has helped BayCare improve continuity of care for patients.

"Patients who have received transportation via Uber have expressed how helpful it has been due to the timeliness of the driver’s arrival. Specifically, when looking at hospital throughput, Uber Health has been a tremendous asset to BayCare," Anderson said, noting that the hospital's "discharge order to door" time has improved by 65 minutes due to the ability to provide an Uber ride for patients that are in need.

John Gresham, senior vice president of health networks at Cerner, said the company's partnership with Uber Health will give health systems more resources to address some of the challenges their patients face in accessing the healthcare they need.