There's an "Uber for" version of just about every type of business you can think of--Uber for private flights, Uber for babysitting, Uber for haircuts. You'd be hard pressed to find a sector of the service economy that hasn't been claimed by an on-demand startup.
One area that would seem more difficult to Uberize is health care. Any car can get you from point A to point B; when it comes to letting a stranger poke and prod you, the privacy and safety considerations grow exponentially. Yet recently launched startups are showing that even the realm of HIPAA can be overtaken by companies promising instant solutions to illness and health care needs.
Here are five areas where you might see an Uber for health and medical services take off in 2016.
1. Plastic surgery
Ordering a nose job or eyelift with the push of a button seems like the height of decadence, but there's already at least one startup getting into that game. Zwivel allows users to consult with doctors about possible cosmetic surgeries over their computer or smartphone using photo and video.
In New York City, you can get your teeth whitened in your living room by Manhattan Whitening Company. In the Bay Area, Studio Dental is among the services on wheels available to busy tech workers. Take out the burden of finding a dentist, making an appointment, and leaving the office for a cleaning, and people might find they no longer have excuses not to get their teeth in shape--except, of course, fear.
3. House calls
Summoning a doctor to your home with the click of a button in an app may seem novel, but it's actually just a techy spin on how things were done in the 1930s. Startups that let you get flu shots, consult a doctor in person or over video chat about a cold, or otherwise deal with non-emergency medical situations without having to head into an office are plentiful and bound to grow in popularity as they start to partner with insurance companies. Heal and Pager let you hail a physician to your home, while Doctor On Demand is one of several that offer video consultations.
4. Pharmacy deliveries
Mail-order medicine has been a thing for a while--it only makes sense to start getting your drugs Postmates- (or Uber-) style on-demand from your phone. New York City-based Zipdrug launched recently in New York City to offer this service. Through the app, users pay for their prescriptions and send a photo of their insurance card to the courier.
5. Home care
There are already a few Uber for babysitting startups out there, such as Trusted, which allows parents to arrange by mobile app for a background-checked sitter to care for their kids for a few hours. Honor is kind of like that for elderly care. The startup contracts with certified nursing assistants and others qualified to work with the elderly to allow seniors and their families to arrange for home care through a mobile app.