Uber joins Apple, Amazon as the next tech company to jump into healthcare

The Uber Health dashboard brings Uber rides to healthcare facilities for its patients and caregivers.
Image: uber

Healthcare is big business, and tech companies don’t want to miss out just because they’re busy building smartphones, apps, and self-driving cars.

Uber announced its new Uber Health platform Thursday. It’s a way for healthcare organizations to order rides for patients who are receiving care at their facilities. Uber also launched an API so the ride-hailing service can be built into existing healthcare tools.

This isn’t an exact replica of the existing Uber app. Instead, health facilities can schedule rides for patients and caregivers (up to a month ahead of time, so patients can get to appointments and make sure they get their follow-up care). The facilities also pay for the rides. Uber Health hopes to replace the transportation options facilities usually book to pick up patients.

Unlike the Uber app, rides work for patients without smartphones. Instead, the rides are coordinated through text message, and there’s a forthcoming plan to set up calls to landlines or cellphones instead of texting. 

Hospitals, rehab centers, and senior care facilities —and more than 100 organizations across the U.S. — are already using a beta version of the program. 

Uber isn’t the first major tech company to break into the healthcare space, which the World Economic Forum values at $6.5 trillion worldwide. Companies like Apple and Google are collecting tons of data on their users, which means it’s not much of a stretch for them to start using information about our eating, sleeping, and heart rate patterns to create new tools and products. 

Last month Google announced an algorithm that can detect, via an eye scan, whether someone has high blood pressure or is at risk for a heart attack or stroke. The researchers were part of Google’s health research division, Verily, which became part of the company in 2015. The AI has a 70 percent accuracy rate, and it’s improving.

Apple is using its Apple Watch product to track health signals like heart rate. With the KardiaBand, wearers can accurately detect irregular heartbeats and other indicators about poor heart health.

Apple introduced the health platform to its operating system back in 2014 and has big goals for diabetes care and other tools for health. 

This week Apple announced its own health clinic system, AC Wellness, for its employees.

Even Amazon is rumored to be thinking about creating its own healthcare company. Depending on how you look at it, that’s either very far — or super close — to selling everything from books to yoga pants to succulents through its online store. Alexa, Amazon’s digital assistant, already knows a lot about users’ habits and health problems, like if you’re asking which pharmacies are open or inquiring as to home remedies for a sore throat.

Health and tech are blurring together. But instead of prescription slips, it’s apps, wearables, and AI. Get ready for the future. 

Read more: https://mashable.com/2018/03/01/uber-health-healthcare-tech/

America Crowns a New Pollution King

For the first time in 40 years, power plants are no longer the biggest source of U.S. greenhouse gas pollution. That dubious distinction now belongs to the transport sector: cars, trucks, planes, trains and boats.  

The big reversal didn’t happen because transportation emissions have been increasing. In fact, since 2000 the U.S. has experienced the flattest stretch of transportation-related pollution in modern record keeping, according to data compiled by the U.S. Energy Information Administration. The big change has come from the cleanup of America’s electric grid. 

The chart below shows carbon dioxide emissions from transportation exceeding those from electricity production in 2016 for the first time since 1978. The pollution gap has continued to widen further in 2017, according to a Bloomberg analysis.

Electricity use in the U.S. hasn’t declined much in the last decade, but it’s being generated from cleaner sources. A dramatic switch away from coal, the dirtiest fuel, is mostly responsible for the drop in emissions. Coal power has declined by more than a third in the last decade, according to the EIA, while cleaner natural gas has soared more than 60 percent. Wind and solar power are also increasingly sucking the greenhouse gases out of U.S. electricity production. 
 
This is good news, and not just because carbon dioxide emissions are the biggest contributor to global climate change. The shift to cleaner energy also has immediate local improvements to health by reducing the burden of asthma, cancer and heart disease.

The transportation sector is also entering a critical period of reformation. Cars are becoming more efficient under aggressive pollution rules passed under President Barack Obama, but that’s so far been offset by an ever-rising American appetite for SUVs, crossovers and pickup trucks. Even the nation’s clean-air policies could soon change. The Trump administration is considering rolling back the toughest fuel-efficiency standards, which are set to take effect in the early 2020s. 

Investments in electric cars may soon begin to do to the transportation sector what wind and solar have done to the power sector: turn the pollution curve upside down. The price of battery packs has been plummeting by about 8 percent a year, according to Bloomberg New Energy Finance, and electric cars are now projected to become cheaper, more reliable, and more convenient than their gasoline-powered equivalents around the world by the mid-2020s.

When the electrification of the U.S. auto fleet begins in earnest, pollution from the two biggest energy sectors—electricity and transportation—may ultimately converge. Those electric cars are going draw their power from the grid.

    Read more: http://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2017-12-04/america-crowns-a-new-pollution-king