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Uber Health partners with Papa to address social isolation among vulnerable populations

October 18, 2021 / US

After a year in which issues in the healthcare space were exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic, addressing barriers to care for older adults – a particularly vulnerable community – has never been more important. 

The older adult population worldwide is rapidly growing. According to data from McKinsey and the World Bank, there were over 590 million people aged 65 and above in 2014, but by 2030, it is estimated this population will be at least 890 million people. As the older adult population continues to grow, it’s becoming increasingly clear there are still critical gaps in care left by the traditional healthcare ecosystem. These populations face rising rates of social isolation and loneliness – challenges only amplified by a lack of access to reliable transportation and an unprecedented global pandemic. In fact, roughly half of adults consider themselves lonely and social isolation increases the risk of death by 29%.

The result has been worsening health outcomes for an already vulnerable population of Americans, who often feel alone and may not have easy access to their communities, healthcare professionals, and other important aspects of a healthy lifestyle, such as access to fresh groceries and medical prescriptions. 

Enter Uber Health and Papa 

Recognizing these important healthcare issues, Uber Health today announced a strategic partnership with Papa, a nationwide provider that pairs older adults and families with trained Papa Pals. Papa Pals offer companionship and comfort for the older adults they are paired with, and also help out around the house or with other tasks like driving members to medical appointments or community events. Through this new partnership, Papa’s care coordinators can offer rides with Uber Health to Papa Pals and to Papa’s customers (e.g. health plan members), so that they can easily and efficiently travel together to medical appointments, the grocery store, or even local events. 

For example, Meena, a Papa Pal may visit her Papa customer, Ravi, for a short hike near the beach and then take him to a weekly chiropractor appointment. With a ride with Uber Health, she can stress less about parking at both the beach and the crowded medical plaza, and instead focus on socializing with Ravi.  

By extending access to efficient transportation solutions with the hundreds of thousands of drivers using Uber’s platform, Papa Pals will be able to spend more time with the older adults they work with and less time worrying about transportation logistics and parking. Beyond just moving from Point A to Point B, Papa and Uber Health will be able to make more 1-to-1 connections at-scale, as Pals and members are able to spend more time focused on being together and fostering a close bond. 

A Vision For a More Connected Future 

By working closely with Papa, Uber Health is doubling down on addressing social determinants of health and focusing on communities often hit hardest by mobility accessibility issues. Since launching in 2018, Uber Health has worked alongside healthcare providers, non-emergency medical transportation brokers, and others in the continuum of care to coordinate rides for those who need it most – which include many older adults who find transportation a consistent barrier to access the care they need. With Papa, Uber Health is able to further expand its reach to these communities, and to help Papa’s core mission of  helping people live as they choose. Additionally, Uber Health will be able to augment its health plan partnerships with Papa. 

The two companies envision a future where Papa and Uber Health partner broadly, beyond rides. Uber Health also has the ability to provide tech-enabled solutions that can address the holistic needs of the older adult population – including healthy meal, grocery delivery, and prescription delivery using the Uber Eats platform. Both Papa and Uber Health believe that interactions with older adults in the home, coupled with improving access to care through rides and delivery, will improve health outcomes for this population. 

Ultimately, the two organizations aim to continue delivering innovative solutions to both Papa Pals and Papa members, bringing holistic healthcare solutions to the home, and boosting a sense of community, connectivity, and belonging among vulnerable communities in the US.

To learn more about Uber Health, click here, and to learn more about Papa, click here