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01/19/2022

CVS partners with Uber Health for free transportation in health initiative

Dan Berthiaume
Senior Editor, Technology
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CVS and Uber Health are providing free medical and work transportation.

CVS Health is partnering with a major rideshare platform as part of its new “Health Zones” program.

The pharmacy giant is collaborating with Uber Health, the healthcare arm of Uber, to provide critical transportation support at no cost to underserved people seeking access to medical care, work or educational programs. The relationship is part of Health Zones, a new CVS initiative that provides concentrated local investments designed to reduce health disparities and advance health equity in high-risk communities.

Rides with Uber Health to receive medical care, to get to work or to job training will be available to a target population living in three of the five Health Zones: Atlanta; Columbus, Ohio; and Hartford, Conn., with plans to enter additional cities later this year.

Uber has been partnering with one of CVS’ chief rivals, Walgreens, to provide free rides to Walgreens stores and offsite vaccine clinics for members of underserved communities to receive COVID-19 vaccinations since February 2021.

Health Zones is an integrated approach to addressing six key social determinants of health: housing, education, access to food, labor, transportation, and health care access. The Health Zones initiative is now active in five markets nationwide: Atlanta; Columbus, Ohio; Fresno, Calif.; Hartford, Conn.; and Phoenix, with plans to expand into more cities later this year.

Health Zones is part of what CVS says is a broader commitment to advance health equity in America. At its December 2021 Investor Day, CVS said it will take a “digital-first, technology-forward approach” designed to expand reach and engagement with online customers. This approach will include launching new consumer-centric services and offerings, as well as enhancing omnichannel health services to meet the needs of consumers when and where they want them, including at and away from home in person, as well as virtually.

In 2021, CVS invested $185 million in affordable housing nationwide, and has allocated $1.3 billion over the past 20 years. According to CVS, approximately 40% of the COVID-19 vaccines it has provided have been given to underserved communities, and more than 50% of its pandemic testing sites have also supported these communities.

[Read more: CVS, Walgreens pharmacies to begin administering COVID-19 vaccines]

"Our Health Zones initiative allows us to make a real impact on the health of communities across the country by working closely with organizations that share our commitment to addressing social determinants of health," said Eileen Howard Boone, senior VP of corporate social responsibility & philanthropy and chief sustainability officer, CVS Health. "With the Uber Health platform, we'll provide critical transportation to people within communities who need it most, giving them access to health care services so they can live healthier lives and to jobs and educational programs that can help them reach their full potential."

"We've long known that access to reliable transportation can help address critical gaps in care that often disproportionately affect vulnerable communities. With the past two years of the pandemic only further highlighting today's health inequities, it's more important than ever for communities to have the tools they need to bridge care gaps and achieve better patient and population health outcomes," said Caitlin Donovan, global head of Uber Health. "Uber Health is proud to be a part of CVS Health's new Health Zones initiative and encourages community organizations to address transportation as a key social determinant of health, while improving health outcomes in a scalable way."