Uber taps operations executive Donovan to lead its growing healthcare arm

Uber has tapped Caitlin Donovan to lead its growing healthcare arm as the rideshare giant looks to expand and grab a bigger share of the market.

Donovan joins Uber most recently from MyOrthos, an Orthodontic Services Organization, where she served as chief operating officer. She also brings experience in the non-emergency medical transportation business as she served as executive vice president of operations at LogistiCare (now ModivCare), the nation's largest manager of NEMT programs for state governments and managed care organizations.

She is stepping into a role first helmed by Dan Trigub, who led Uber Health from 2018 until September 2020, when he left to start at-home care company MedArrive.

In the two years that Trigub led Uber Health the healthcare business grew 300% and now partners with more than 1,000 healthcare organizations to provide medical transportation, according to data available in September 2020.

RELATED: Head of Uber Health leaving to launch new healthcare startup

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

Under his leadership at Uber Health, the company formed partnerships with Medicare Advantage plans to open up ride-sharing options. It also has put a focus on Medicaid as a key market to focus on at-risk populations.

Uber Health also collaborated with startups like Grand Rounds, which expanded its reach to employees at big, self-insured companies like Walmart and Comcast.

Both Uber and Lyft have taken steps to integrate their application programming interfaces with major electronic health record (EHR) vendors. Uber Health executives have said its partnership with Cerner enables deeper interoperability within the healthcare and ride-sharing industries. 

Uber also has been ramping up its prescription delivery business. In August, Uber Health inked a partnership with NimbleRx to offer online prescription ordering and drug delivery direct to consumers in Seattle, Dallas, Austin, Houston and New York City. 

Uber Health also has a partnership with software company ScriptDrop to be the default delivery service for ScriptDrop pharmacies in 37 states, with plans to expand to others.

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

The ride-hailing giant recently teamed up with home health testing company empowerDX to offer at-home COVID-19 test kits delivered on-demand. The company also rolled out free vaccine appointment rides to Walgreens for people in underserved communities and a feature that enables consumers to book a vaccine appointment through the Uber app. 

Leading Uber's healthcare arm provides an opportunity to make an impact on individual patients as well as population health more broadly, Donovan told Fierce Healthcare.

Caitlin Donovan (Uber)

"The way I see the healthcare landscape trending in terms of care moving to alternative sites of care and the home, you need strong logistics to make that work. It's not just about rides to doctor’s appointments, but it's also about getting home health delivered to the home, getting durable medical equipment delivered to the home and medications. You need to ensure that patients are well taken care of in a home or in an alternative care setting. Uber is the only player in the space to be able to solve all those logistics issues," she said.

At MyOrthos, Donovan built the infrastructure required to scale and spearheaded COVID-19 protocols to keep patients and employees safe while delivering care. She also has health IT experience as she served as the vice president of operations at CareCentrix with a focus on home health and post-acute care. 

RELATED: Uber expands prescription delivery business with ScriptDrop partnership

In the past, Trigub, while he led Uber Health, indicated he saw a bigger role for on-demand transportation services to help address social determinants of health issues.

Donovan also sees Uber's healthcare arm playing a role to provide "last-mile logistics" to help address gaps in care.

In a report, CB Insights detailed the opportunities for Uber and Lyft’s services beyond NEMT, including food delivery and the transportation of medical supplies, two areas that have seen a surge in demand as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.