Remember a few years ago, when the taxi industry was disrupted and forever changed by Uber?

Fast forward, and these days it’s not unusual to see on-demand service apps coining themselves the “Uber of ___”. Canadians can do almost anything – from ordering their groceries, summoning a handyman, or getting an in-home massage – with a smartphone or handheld device. For many seniors, this is a godsend – it can help them keep their routines more easily, especially when adapting to mobility changes, or relinquishing the car keys for good.

All of this certainly gives the impression that everything can be done with an app, but it’s not quite that simple.

Hyper-local service capacity

For one thing, the illusion of an everything-at-your-fingertips digital world doesn’t always stack up to the reality. Not all services are available in the same capacity in all locations. For example, newcomer to the Canadian market, grocery delivery app Instacart may have fewer (or no) shoppers to fill orders in rural areas outside of main city centres.

Inconsistent service quality

Because “Uber” type services are provided by individual and fragmented providers, customer service can be inconsistent (or, if you look at some of the one star ratings for various apps, nonexistent.) You can’t depend on getting the same person each time, and you generally can’t expect to connect on a deeper level that usually comes with being a “regular”, like you might expect with other businesses.

Could health care be next?

Sites like have started offering on-demand house calls from physicians in a couple cities the USA, but it’s a far cry from Uber’s disruptive reach, and nothing similar has cropped up in Canada.

In September of 2016, Huffington Post [Canada] writer Zeeshan Hayat asked, “Why Is There No Uber For Health Care?” It’s a great question, and he rationalizes that when it comes to health care, rather than be drawn to a gimmick, Canadians are looking for quality. Hayat also pointed out that in the Canadian health care model, people are less likely to pay out of pocket for health care services, rendering an “Uber for healthcare” model economically unscalable for investors who don’t want to gamble on an app that might not wow the market. It’s just safer to invest in proven health care access interventions!

So, there is no “digital app” gimmick fix for on demand health services, but if you’re a senior who needs at home medical care, customized services can be accessed at home through agencies (like Retire At Home if you’re in Canada.) This is a safer way to bring care into your home, too, as you’ll be getting vetted professionals, not just someone who signed up on an app service provider. Plus, you can consult on continuing your care, not just as a one-off, and often with financial support from the agency.

Does it matter when “Uber-ish” companies fail?

For a company to be “like Uber”, it implies they are disruptive to current industries – some which may not recover. However, not all of those companies succeed – and their failure often slams the door shut for companies seeking funding for similar ideas or solutions. That means you could become dependent on a service, like Washly (pickup car wash service, defunct since 2015), and never find a replacement.


Ultimately, on demand services can be a huge help to seniors, but apps can’t replace established healthcare best practices, or personal interaction. A senior living solo shouldn’t have to become dependent on home delivery services alone. Talk to us at Retire At Home today about your at home needs.

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