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Frustrated by their inability to hail a taxi on a snowy evening in 2008, two friends brainstormed an idea that would eventually become known as Uber—a digital platform that that has profoundly disrupted the taxi industry in 449 cities worldwide. With a few taps on their smartphones, passengers can now e-hail a car when and where needed, and follow the Uber driver’s journey in real time. But the story does not end there.
Just a handful of years later, Uber is using its platform and ecosystem to push disruption into a completely unrelated sector—healthcare. Last November, people across 36 US cities could tap on the UberHEALTH option on their apps for a US$10 flu care package and a house call from a registered nurse with enough flu vaccines for 10 people. In April 2016, Uber launched a similar service in five cities in South Africa. Until then, neither hospitals nor pharmacy chains had considered Uber a potential competitor. Today, the term “uberisation” has to come mean the data-driven utilisation of otherwise untapped or idling resources.