The Rising Cost of EMS Transportation and Its Impact on Senior Living Communities

EMS team

Professional treatment, first-response availability, and medical equipment: These are the three factors that contribute to the steadily increasing cost of EMS transport. Along with providing quick transportation to the nearest hospital, costs cover the incredibly well-stocked inventory of on-board medical supplies and technologies. This convenience fee also includes first responder training for the heroes who provide the bulk of the medical services in the vehicle. For decades, EMS transport has helped save lives. The coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic—along with the rising cost of EMS transportation—is causing many people and organizations to search for alternatives. This is particularly true for senior living communities that care for a variety of adults (ages 65 and older) at high risk of contracting coronavirus (COVID-19) and with high-risk health conditions and limited means of transportation. So, how are the rising costs of EMS transport impacting senior living communities? In this article, we’re prepared to dive deeper into this question by reviewing the reasons behind increasing expenses of emergency transport and how senior living communities are finding alternatives.

Why The Pricey Ride?

With a medical crew making up roughly 61 percent of the operating costs in addition to fuel, maintenance, supply, and administrative costs, EMS services have a complicated billing process. And in the United States, EMS transportation is also often incentivized by most major insurances. Why? Because these transports have remained the universal, acute medical service that insurance companies include in plans. For seniors in living communities, the acute medical service offered by EMS transportation is often the only available option that works—whether or not hospitalization is required.

While EMS transportation has its place, the reality is that the majority of 911 calls by adults 65 and older do not require life-saving interventions. Instead, most of these complaints include non-life-threatening symptoms that can develop from underlying health conditions that seniors often face. As a result, roughly 20 percent of seniors rely on repeat EMS transportation for ailments and symptoms of existing health concerns that don’t necessarily require emergency assistance. Not only can this get expensive for seniors given the rising cost of EMS transportation, but it can also be disruptive to their daily routines, which are essential for seniors with dementia and/or Alzheimers.

The Impact On Senior Living Communities

In senior living communities, where residents are at higher risk of developing acute medical needs, EMS transportation is extremely common and important—especially in life-threatening scenarios. Frequent trips to the emergency room can often have a negative impact on the population of senior living communities, however. Not only can the transition between home and the hospital be stressful, disrupting routines and causing emotional distress for seniors who suffer from memory loss or Alzheimers, but it can also be expensive considering that it’s not always needed. In the case that hospitalization is required, a hospital stay can put compromised immune systems of seniors with chronic health conditions at risk—which is especially important to consider during the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. This can also heighten chances of senior hospital readmissions, which can often have a negative impact on seniors. 

Coronavirus (COVID-19) & Senior Living Communities

Across the globe, adult children have been barred from visiting their elderly parents in senior living communities and other long-term care facilities in order to maintain stringent shelter-in-place measures during the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. Despite these efforts, senior living communities remain some of the hardest hit areas of coronavirus (COVID-19). Elderly individuals are at high risk of contracting the virus, adding a worrisome element to visits to the emergency room and urgent care facilities. That’s why, now more than ever, it’s important for seniors to receive in-home medical care that allows them to adhere to shelter-in-place guidelines to reduce their risk of exposure to coronavirus (COVID-19) at the hospital or urgent care center.

An Alternative for Emergency and Urgent Care

Seniors are one of the largest populations in America. In the medical world, this has resulted in a higher demand for EMS assistance and transportation to hospitals—an expensive solution for acute healthcare needs. Today, there are an increasing number of alternatives to traditional EMS transport for non-life-threatening situations—including DispatchHealth’s innovative mobile, on-demand acute healthcare. DispatchHealth’s objective is to reduce medical costs in at-risk populations by providing differentiated in-home care services. We have existing, long-term partnerships with many organizations that deliver value to support our partner goals with senior living communities, including EMS services. DispatchHealth leverages a comprehensive platform of services in order to build a successful and sustainable EMS program for both emergency and non-life-threatening medical conditions your population of seniors might face. In short, that means that partnering with DispatchHealth helps you cover all bases for your senior living community—without the expense.

dispatchhealth-medical-team

Requesting care is as easy as contacting DispatchHealth. Our services are offered in two different ways: Through a direct request via phone, web, or our mobile app, or as an ambulance/ED alternative through integration with 911 first-response systems. Within a few hours, a medical team will arrive at your doorstep with nearly all of the tools and technologies found in a typical ER setting. Best of all, our services are covered by most major insurances—including Medicare and Medicaid—ensuring residents can benefit from prompt and affordable healthcare services. And we’ve updated our protocols to keep our patients and staff safe from coronavirus (COVID-19), requiring constant use of personal protection equipment. We can also test for COVID-19 as our providers deem appropriate.

To learn more about the benefits of senior living community partnerships with DispatchHealth, contact us today!

Sources

DispatchHealth relies only on authoritative sources, including medical associations, research institutions, and peer-reviewed medical studies. 

Sources referenced in this article: 

  1. https://businessjournalism.org/2020/01/the-costs-of-emergency-medical-transportation/
  2. https://www.usatoday.com/story/money/personalfinance/2017/05/20/ambulance-health-care-services-costs/334338001/
  3. https://www.verywellhealth.com/why-an-ambulance-costs-so-much-4093846
  4. https://www.jems.com/2017/10/01/older-adults-who-repeatedly-request-ems-transport/

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