In these times of crisis, many corporate and business conglomerates have extended their support to the Indian government in the fight against the COVID-19 pandemic. Uber too has come forward by way of a partnership that involves providing free rides to healthcare professionals to travel to and from medical facilities. Uber goes one step ahead and ensures that these rides are absolutely safe and do not become a breeding ground for virus transmission. Pavan Vaish, Head – Central Operations, Uber India and South Asia shares the company’s plans for scaling up the pilot project and reaching out to several public hospitals across the country, at no cost, with Usha Sharma
How will Uber India’s partnership with the National Health Authority (NHA) help the government to fight against the COVID-19 pandemic in India?
Uber’s partnership with the National Health Authority to provide free rides at select public hospitals for healthcare workers to travel to and from medical facilities showcases our strong support for the government’s efforts in containing COVID-19. It’s also our way of saluting and supporting India’s real heroes – our medical workers, who’re helping keep our communities safe.
As part of an ongoing pilot, our UberMedic cars are being fitted with a separate enclosure consisting of a protective plastic sheet between the healthcare worker and driver. This is in line with the Prime Minister’s goal of practising social distancing even within the confines of an UberMedic car. To set the highest possible safety and hygiene standards while moving what matters, all drivers are being given special training on safety procedures along with personal protective equipment such as masks, sanitisers and disinfectants to sanitise the cars between rides.
How do you plan to scale this up in other parts of the country?
Our UberMedic is already live in 12 Indian cities, including New Delhi, Noida, Mumbai, Kolkata, Pune, Chennai, Hyderabad, Benglauru, Lucknow, Patna, Kanpur and Ghaziabad. Currently, 24 leading Indian hospitals like Sri Ganga Ram Hospital, Dr Ram Manohar Lohia Hospital, Safdarjung Hospital, Metropolis Healthcare, GHV Advanced Care and State Health Society, Bihar are using UberMedic. Over the next few days, we will be providing UberMedic cars at no charge to several public hospitals across the country.
Tell us more about the UberMedic service and how does it operate?
UberMedic is a customised enterprise solution catering to the specific needs of frontline healthcare workers and patients to provide them access to reliable and convenient transportation during this challenging time. Working closely with a network of hospitals and leveraging our global experience, technology and network of driver-partners, UberMedic allows hospitals to easily and reliably arrange transportation for doctors and other health workers to and from their homes as well as to healthcare facilities. This service gets deployed in partnership with a hospital authority and depending on the requirements, we provide cars to hospitals through our central tech platform, along with assigning an account manager to help the hospital schedule bookings. This service is not available through the app.
What all medical care equipment/service is UberMedic equipped with, and how are you sourcing all these?
All our UberMedic cars are being fitted with a roof-to-floor plastic sheeting, enclosing the driver, thereby, limiting contact with the rider. Additionally, to set the highest possible safety and hygiene standards while moving what matters, all drivers are being given special training on safety procedures along with personal protective equipment such as masks, sanitisers and disinfectants to sanitise the cars between rides. We have local partners that have provided us with the plastic sheeting and Uber staff will install the plastic sheeting in all UberMedic cars.
What all measures are you taking in order to prevent the spread of COVID-19?
Ensuring the safety of our riders and driver-partners, while moving what matters during these times is critical for us. We are working closely with state and central authorities to help contain the spread of COVID-19 while providing lifeline and emergency services across the country. Some of our initiatives include:
⦁ Uber Essentials: Uber is working with state governments and city authorities to provide safe and reliable transportation in several cities for essential travel purposes, amidst the current lockdown. Uber Essentials is a limited mobility product with customised travel geographies for pick up and drop and for specific timings to and fro from any essential service/location such as hospitals and pharmacies. These vary from city to city where essential is currently available and locations can be geofenced on the app itself.
Last-mile deliveries: Through the retail partnerships, customers of Flipkart, BigBasket, Medlife and Spencers can now get essential goods and medication delivered at their doorsteps, safely and hygienically. This service will enable access to everyday essentials to people as they support the government’s efforts to slow the rapid spread of COVID-19 by staying at home. To ensure safety, customers are urged to avoid all contacts and comply with guidelines shared by public health authorities.
Do you plan to extend the similar support at state level as well?
We are working with all state governments to help support them in their fight against COVID-19. We have multiple partnerships in place to provide our UberMedic service to government hospitals across states. We have partnered with public health authorities in Bengaluru and Noida to provide transportation services for non-COVID-19 medical emergencies through our UberMedic service. We are planning to expand to cities like Kanpur, Prayagraj and others in the next few days.