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The Ambulance Industry Needs a Tech Upgrade

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This piece was originally published on the Medlert Inc. blog.

 

For many people who don’t work in the EMS industry, the inner working of the ambulance system is a black box. We hope we never need an ambulance, but we understand if we have a medical emergency we can call 911 and an ambulance will show up at our door.
 
Those types of calls–emergency calls–lead to some 44 million emergency medical transports every year in the US. Nearly just as many—42 million medical transports—are non-emergency medical transports, which often means moving people from one healthcare facility to another.
 
Legacy Technology Can’t Keep Up
Entire systems for billing, processing requests, and quickly sharing vital patient information exist to power the ambulance industry and drive emergency- and non-emergency medical transport. But those those systems are largely built on legacy technologies that aren’t equipped to meet today’s demands for moving information quickly and securely.
 
Over the last several years, the Medlert team has talked to many people in the ambulance industry. We have heard time and time again that many ambulance end users— patients, hospitals, healthcare facilities, and payers—share the same pain points.
 
Old Technology Leads to Inefficiency
Many of those pain points arise from the fact that today’s ambulance logistic systems are built on old technology—phone, fax, and paperwork. These legacy systems are plagued with inefficiencies, such as:

  • A lack of transparency about vehicle availability and estimated ETAs,
  • Old hardware and software providing traffic navigation for ambulances,
  • Poor safety telematics for speed monitoring and crash detection,
  • No easy way to verify important patient information,
  • Difficulty collecting payment because of missing paperwork, and
  • Data vulnerabilities because of poor data security.

 
For those working on the inside of the healthcare and ambulance industries this means that:
Facilities, which you can’t service, are making requests for transports, including by wheelchair, which are difficult to fulfill;

  • Patients referrals are necessary but lengthy and time-consuming to coordinate;
  • Paperwork is a nightmare to handle; and
  • It is difficult to manage facility expectations and communicate an accurate ETA for smooth transfers.

 
The Technology Exists Today to Build Better Systems
It is a challenging time for healthcare and for the ambulance industry, but the good news is that many of the technologies exist today to build faster, smarter, more secure systems, which can remedy many of these problems.
 
It is Medlert Inc’s mission to use these technologies—mobile apps, cloud-based software tools, HIPAA-secure channels for mobile- or web-based devices—to enable the ambulance industry to offer faster service and better care.
 
After all, if Siri can navigate you to any destination of your choosing, why don’t we have these basic tools and more for emergency responders?
 
Mobile Apps & Cloud-based Tools Can Offer Security and Efficiency
The answer is that tools like this already exist. These tools will replace the legacy technology powering much of the medical transport industry today. These newer, savvier platforms allow ambulance crews to get real-time traffic routing, dynamic speed notifications, and voice-over navigation. The crew can detect crashes on the road and share accurate ETAs with healthcare facilities and patients from any mobile device.
 
Native apps for ambulance crews work in concert with tools that allow hospital and healthcare facility staff to submit ambulance transport requests over a HIPAA-secure channel from any mobile- or web-based device. New transport requests are then routed to the right ambulance in the field based on real-time telematics and broadcasting algorithms.
 
When an ambulance crew receives a new transport request, the in-ambulance app can then guide the crew to the pickup location and simultaneously send the crew and dispatch center real-time metrics on route, speed, and vehicle location. These fleet monitoring tools allow for greater fleet efficiencies and the ability to create a record of performance to improve service and expedite billing.