A common barrier to participatory research, where individuals are interviewed as part of community-based research, is the participants’ ability to actually arrive at the interview site. Due to transportation issues, many times when research participants have scheduled appointments, they do not show up, wasting valuable time of the research staff.
Having door-to-door service would help ensure participants arrive on time to their appointments and improve the quality of their participation experience in FIU research studies.
“We needed to find a cost-effective way that could be easy for participants to get to their interviews and help us further our research,” said Brenda Lerner, research associate professor and grant coordinator for the at the Robert Stempel College of Public Health & Social Work.
As Miami site activities began on two research collaborations funded by the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA) between Stempel’s AIDS Prevention Program and University of Florida, Lerner realized that working with Uber Technologies, Inc., the national ride-sharing network, would be an important way to help participants with their transportation issues. Within their network, Uber Health is a separate dashboard web-based platform that is HIPAA compliant for providing transportation services, applying an information security defense-in-depth strategy where layers of technical and administrative controls are deployed and then validated.
Now, after months of negotiating and working out the process, Uber Health is an official transportation partner for not only the college, but can also involve researchers across the university who are looking to help secure transportation required for their research and improve meeting interview outcomes.
According to Uber Health, they take confidentiality seriously and already treat patients and research participants alike in the same manner as any other rider. To handle Protected Health Information (PHI) with appropriate care, they have built HIPAA compliance into Uber Health from the ground up.
According to Robert L. Chaput, Uber’s CEO Clearwater Compliance, “Our team concluded that Uber Health has an unusually robust security environment involving numerous information security safeguards.”
Lerner spearheaded the project with the assistance of Marie Alvarez through the FIU’s Total Contract Management (TCM). Stempel College and the Departments of Research Integrity and Compliance, as well as the Office of Research and Economic Development provided, great assistance.
“While instituting the agreements with Uber Health, I wanted to make sure that this service could be open to all investigators at FIU that offer transportation to their research participants,” continued Lerner. “This partnership represents a significant reduction in grant expenditures for participant transportation. Now the university can use this much needed, cost-effective transportation service.”