It's no secret that taking a ride in the back of an ambulance isn't cheap.
Together with a friend, Dr. Leon Moskatel at Scripps Mercy Hospital in San Diego, Slusky this year examined ambulance rates in 766 USA cities across the country in 43 states as Uber entered their markets from 2013 to 2015.
The study was co-authored by David Slusky, an assistant professor of economics at the University of Kansas, and Dr. Leon Moskatel, an internist at Scripps Mercy Hospital in San Diego.
After reviewing all the data, the researchers concluded that Uber's entry into cities reduced "per capital ambulance volume by at least seven percent". According to The Mercury News, a new study shows that cities with Uber experience a sharp and noticeable decrease in ambulance usage. The two compared ambulance usage rates in 766 USA cities both before and after Uber was introduced (between 2013 to 2015). Moskatel says they expect it to increase to 10% to 15% "as Uber continues to expand as an alternative for people". The study is now being submitted for peer review.
While the working paper is the first systemic look at how Uber affects ambulance use, the trend of patients choosing ride-sharing services over ambulances has been noticed before. Cost is a big factor, but some people never had a choice before.
Yet for emergency room patients who are too sick to drive but who don't need medical care during the drive, an Uber would suffice, they say. In a place with poor public or taxi service, an ambulance might have been their only way to get to a hospital. The company is happy that people are using its service but encourages them to call 911 in case of an emergency.
The authors wrote that ambulance use has dropped in part because patients "lack of other means of transportation", and that patients would use "an alternate means of transport if one existed". And based on location to the driver when ordering a vehicle, those requesting an Uber can sometimes experience a shorter wait time than they would for an ambulance.