Is RockHealth Wrong? Why There is no Uber for Healthcare

Uber for healthRitu Rajan and Teresa Wang of RockHealth wrote an excellent article digging into “Why There is No Uber for Healthcare.” It was a great summary of all the latest buzz around Uber and the digital health market as seen by RockHealth.

Unfortunately the article missed the three most important points on why there’s no Uber for healthcare. 

The Best Doctors Don’t Need Uber

First, the best doctors have no incentive to join such a service. They have good reputations and are able to build loyal client bases. What it is absolutely critical for them is the ability to control their practice and their brand. Joining a Uber-ish service means giving up their personal brand and becoming just another cog in the wheel. This begs the question: So what kinds of doctors are you left seeing in an Uber-like service?

Health is a Personal Thing

Second, the article is based on the flawed premise that since Uber is successful then Uber health must also be a great idea. The biggest revolution in healthcare right now is the transformation from the fee-for-service model to a fee-for-results model – where wellness, prevention, and chronic care management are the driving forces. Uber assumes healthcare delivery is a commodity, where I can swap nurses or doctors with no difference in results. But managing your health is like managing your finances – it takes significant time and effort to learn your context, and what is unique about you. People do better with a health provider they trust and with whom they have a personal relationship. So using random providers for each encounter doesn’t make sense.

I’d Rather See My Doctor Than an Uber Doctor Off the Street

Third, people in general love their personal doctors. We have self worth. We care about our health. So our doctors are great by projection of our faith. What I mean is it doesn’t matter so much if our doctor is great in the objective sense, rather we have an innate drive and need to believe that “my doctor is great.” As a result, I would rather wait for an appointment with my favorite doctor than go see a random Uber doctor.

The bottom line is that healthcare can’t be treated like any material commodity. Whether it’s for economic reasons or psychological reasons, RockHealth and I both agree that there are a lot of hurdles to overcome if Uber healthcare is ever going to make it.

Comments ( 2 )
  • CEO, Milton Chen
    Scott Free says:

    Because Uber is a catastrophe. Other than in terms of hyped up valuation (see twitter), it’s only merit is providing a convenient way to avoid almost all the regulations that are supposed to keep us safe when in a for hire car.

    So if you’re good getting a vasectomy in the back of a van from a guy with a barbers license and a medical degree from Latvia…let’s Uber up Healthcare!

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