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Health services are crucial to every population segment. Delayed medical care arises due to insufficient transport medium in unplanned situations and emergencies. However, medical transport provides incidental medical benefits for efficient and consistent access to healthcare services. It is an effective and lifesaving means of accessing non-emergency medical aid and treatment.

Many low-paid Americans lack the discretionary income required to purchase a functional automobile. Likewise, rural communities also experience transportation barriers and limited transit options to meet medical sessions or consultations. Additionally, with a rise in the number of chronic health cases and frequent hospital trips, accessible life-sustaining treatments, and medical services are necessary to build a sustainable and credible healthcare system.

The following are five needs for medical transportation:

  1. Follow-ups/routine medical checkups

Patients may need to follow up after being discharged from the hospital or an emergency department visit. Hospital visits help to guide them through their recovery process. Regular medical checkups are also recommended for those recovering from surgery and the elderly.

The lack of access to safe and reliable transportation is one major factor that can discourage patients from meeting appointment schedules, resulting in a deterioration in their health. However, accessible medical transport will encourage more patients to follow up on their medical routines.

Disabled individuals or those with mobility issues may find it challenging to visit the hospital or move from one health institution to another. Despite providing a certain level of convenience for the disabled, commercial transport services are far from comfortable for individuals in a wheelchair.

The provision of a wheelchair that offers physical, environmental, and functional support to a considerable extent must be available to meet and satisfy individual needs. Wheelchair medical transportation services are specifically equipped to cater to patients in a wheelchair, both before, during, and after transit.

Different patients endure unique medical conditions that demand round-the-clock services with special care and attention. They constantly need to meet doctor appointments, get regular checkups, or purchase more drugs. Non-emergency medical transportation ensures that patients can always meet up with their health commitments.

Often, the best health care and specialist services for a particular ailment might be in another state. Non-emergency medical transportation can help transport patients over long distances while providing basic medical care throughout the journey.

Consultation is the act of rendering professional advice or opinion. An increase in healthcare costs has prompted a significant rise in the need for consultation services. Easy access to medical transportation ensures that patients can schedule and meet up with their consultation/appointments when required and ultimately get quicker medical intervention.

Conclusion

The need to stay healthy has indefinitely led to a rise in the search for quality health care services. The effectiveness of this search is determined mainly by the quality of medical transport available. Patients, especially the elderly, those with mobility issues, and those who require frequent medical trips/checkups, are encouraged to take advantage of non-emergency medical transportation services. This will ensure that they enjoy the quality and prompt healthcare services.

Choosing a non-emergency medical transport (NEMT) service provider is difficult for a first-timer, even with thorough research. Therefore, clients need to follow specific tips when selecting a NEMT firm. These tips include:

1. Ensure the non-emergency medical transport service firm is accredited

Accreditation from a regulatory body like the Better Business Bureau is one of the first things you should check before patronizing a non-emergency medical transport service firm. It is not easy to obtain accreditations from these regulatory agencies.

Thus, a firm that has passed the accreditation rules set by these agencies by no means offers substandard services. The fact that these firms met strict accreditation rules means they can carry out successful trips to a medical facility with professionalism.

2. Inquire if the escort staff have the necessary training for emergency cases

Non-emergency medical transport (NEMT) services do not deal with emergency cases. This role is reserved explicitly for emergency medical services (EMS). However, emergencies may arise during trips to the hospitals, especially long-distance ones. In such cases, employees aboard the NEMT vehicles must have received the appropriate medical training to deal with emergency scenarios.

Therefore, clients need to know if the non-emergency medical transport service firm has escort employees who have received the necessary training for handling emergency medical situations.

3. Check on the firm’s fleet and the type of vehicle that will suit the patient’s need during medical travels

A vehicle for long-distance medical travel may not be suitable for short trips to the local medical center. Therefore, clients have to know what vehicle is assigned to them before a medical trip. Ensure that the NEMT firm provides you with a vehicle that suits your needs and allows you to enjoy a journey in safety and comfort.

Clients should also visit the NEMT firm’s facility to check if the vehicle assigned to them is appropriate for your trip or if the vehicle is well maintained and safe for travel.

4. Check for the extra features and facilities installed within a NEMT vehicle

Some non-emergency medical transport service companies offer premium service that gives patients a taste of luxury and comfort on a medical trip. These NEMT firms have vehicles equipped with luxury facilities such as a high-quality mattress, a bathroom ensuite, a flat-screen TV, and WiFi. This luxury offering is specially designed for people who are uncomfortable traveling long distances to a medical facility.

5. Ask if the NEMT firm has the needed equipment.

Before allowing your loved ones to embark on a medical trip with a NEMT firm, ask them if they have the necessary equipment for a patient’s travel, like stretchers, wheelchairs, and crutches.

Nevertheless, clients must also inquire whether the NEMT vehicles allow for easy access to wheelchairs or if the escort employees have the necessary training for transferring patients and helping them into a building. These inquiries, if answered, will provide feedback on the safety and comfort your loved one will enjoy on a trip.

6. Do not sign a contract until you understand it

When contracts are lengthy and filled with legal jargon, it becomes necessary to seek the services of a solicitor to avoid future legal problems. However, it would be best to patronize non-emergency transport service companies that offer straightforward and easy-to-understand contracts. This will help you save money that would have been spent on the services of a legal professional.

Non-emergency medical transportation is a reliable and on-time transportation service for patients who are not in an emergency condition but need assistance to reach a medical appointment.

There are two kinds of Medical transportation; emergency and non-emergency medical transportation (NEMT). Emergency medical transportation is a medical service for patients who are in urgent need of medical attention. Examples are accident victims, stroke attack victims, asthma attack victims, etc.

On the other hand, non-emergency medical transportation conveys patients who need to be transported to medical facilities for non-emergency reasons. This study highlights that NEMT services are crucial for a healthy community.

A typical NEMT service is equipped with trained drivers, medical technicians, paramedics, medical equipment, etc., within the transport vehicle. This form of medical transportation is affordable, safe, and convenient. There are different kinds of NEMT services. Each dedicated to servicing various types of patients. Below are five types of NEMT service:

  1. Stretcher medical transportation: This NEMT service is reserved for patients who need to travel with the aid of a stretcher but do not need urgent medical attention. Stretcher medical transport is for patients diagnosed with back problems or those who cannot sit upright.

Stretcher medical transport uses adjustable stretchers so they can access elevators and halls. This type of non-emergency medical transport is suitable for bedridden patients, patients who should not be carrying weight, etc.

Wheelchair medical transportation service uses a van equipped with CPR-trained drivers who knows how to operate the van and the wheelchair lifts.

Courier medical transport vehicles are driven by specialist drivers who ensure that the samples and equipment they are transporting reach their final destination without being tampered with.

Wrapping Up

This article has briefly discussed the five main types of non-emergency medical transportation and those who need them. Research has shown that NEMT services have significantly helped to facilitate prompt and easy access to healthcare globally.

Although the cost of ambulance services may vary from provider to provider, non-emergency ambulance services provide a fast, seamless, and effective means to convey patients to their medical appointments, especially during urgent situations. This service eliminates concerns like safety, comfort, expert care, etc.

The medical transportation industry is still fledging. As such, there is a high relevance on the importance of ambulance services. Hence, topics like the cost of ambulance service, the quality of the service, professional capacity, and so on come into consideration when deciding on what service provider to contact if you need assistance.

Here are some essential points to consider when choosing a medical transport service.

5 Points to Consider When Choosing a Non-Emergency Ambulance Service

Before deciding on hiring the services of a non-emergency ambulance service, here are a few crucial things to consider:

  1. Ensure that the Company is Accredited

This tip is essential when shortlisting your options. Quickly strike out those non-emergency ambulance companies that are not accredited by the relevant authorities. Ensure that you only consider a company endorsed by applicable regulatory bodies, including the Better Business Bureau (BBB).

By doing so, you can have a fair idea of the quality and standard of the company’s services. Reputed certifications are not readily handed out in the non-emergency ambulance industry.

The cost of ambulance services from a luxurious non-emergency ambulance provider might be significantly higher than most other options. However, they often provide a more comprehensive range of hi-tech amenities to aid mobility and increase comfort. It’s crucial to ensure that the service provider you choose provides whatever necessary amenities that your trip may require.

You might even consider a premium service for long-distance trips that offer additional amenities like high-quality mattresses with built-in bathrooms, stretchers, wheelchairs, music systems, Wi-Fi, flat-screen televisions, charging points, air condition, etc. The idea is to ensure that you receive the best comfort throughout your trip.

Most non-emergency ambulance services provide trained personnel to travel alongside their patients during trips. However, not all personnel have sufficient training to handle specific emergencies. Depending on the nature of your medical state, you must ensure that the personnel attached to you can handle any emergencies that may occur as a result of your specific medical condition.

Non-emergency ambulance service providers often have a broad range of vehicle types for various needs. For instance, they might have specific vehicles for short-distance trips for local pharmacies and medical centers and different vehicles for longer intercity or interstate trips. You should consider your current medical condition and ensure that the vehicle assigned to you meets your specific needs.

Many riders do not consider this point when they want to hire a non-emergency ambulance service provider. However, besides the cost of ambulance service, staffing, additional amenities, etc., it’s essential to understand the company’s terms of the contract beforehand.

This way, you can have a more informed idea of what the company offers and the extent of their duties to you as an esteemed customer. You’ll also be in a better position to understand how much severance the company takes responsibility for in the case of certain eventualities.

Many companies make access to this document or the document itself cumbersome and complicated. However, some other well-meaning companies make this document and access to it straightforward and uncomplicated. You should select a service provider that is clear and straightforward about their business—one you can comprehend even without professional assistance. This way, you can be sure that the company is well-intentioned and will provide just the service you need.

Giving up on driving is difficult for seniors. When you take away their driving privileges, they often lose their sense of independence and become emotionally disoriented. Hence, finding an alternative to their transportation becomes necessary. Contacting family and friends is a great way to start the search for good transport for seniors. They know more than you can imagine. They might even provide extra information about delivery options. Here are some great options for transporting seniors:

1. Caregivers

It is easy to think that caregivers are only restricted to services like cooking and laundry. However, some caregivers are highly capable of transporting your elderly loved ones. Why not go to your local home care agency? They will link you up with a caregiver that specializes in transporting seniors. Plus, home care agencies often carry out background checks for their caregiver staff. This means you can leave your elderly loved ones with a reliable caregiver to transport them without fear.

2. Public Transportation

A common way of moving around cities is public transportation. There are buses, subways, light rails, and ferries to take you around. One of the perks of public transport is that seniors are usually offered discounts and coupons. Furthermore, some public buses make room for wheelchairs and other mobility aids at no extra charge.

You should consider public transportation if you live in places where it is efficient. Sadly, some cities have a flawed public transportation system. Therefore, it is wise that you only go for public transportation if the system is operated efficiently.

3. Family

This is a very convenient option for seniors. Your relative is accustomed to the routine of your elderly loved one and knows where they enjoy hanging out. Furthermore, you have a solid idea about the driving ability of your relative. However, this option may not be sustainable in the long run, as there may not always be a family member available.

4. Volunteer Transportation Programs

Some religious or non-profit organizations run volunteer transportation programs to help seniors with their transportation needs. However, you must make reservations ahead of time. Nevertheless, transportation cost is highly affordable if anything is paid at all. These volunteer programs mostly run-on donations, and a volunteer network is there to help out.

5. Non-emergency medical transport services                                                     

Non-emergency medical transport (NEMT) is one of the best options for safely and conveniently transporting seniors. Whether the elderly passenger has difficulty moving around or is handicapped, NEMT comes highly recommended.

NEMT companies offer transport for seniors using approved medical transport vehicles, which can accommodate a wheelchair and other mobility equipment. They also ensure that a trained medical employee accompanies your elderly loved ones on their trips, be it long or short distance. However, you must book an appointment with them beforehand.

You must ensure that the chosen non-emergency medical transport services comply with the American Disability Act.  If not, your loved one might be in for an uncomfortable ride. Most of these NEMT firms offer door-to-door service and curb-to-curb service. You can request any of these services as long as the convenience needs of your elderly loved one are met.

Often, patients cannot make their hospital appointments by public transport or other means (including private vehicles or private cabs) because of their medical state. As such, they would require hospital transport services to provide mobility from their homes to the hospital. 

If your current medical state prohibits you from getting to the hospital independently (including with the help of family, relatives, friends, caregivers, etc.), then you can incorporate a reliable hospital transport service.

Non-emergency and hospital transport services are gaining rapid popularity all across the US. They provide seamless and comfortable means for patients to move from one medical facility to another and back home. Here are some of the benefits hospital transport services offer patients.

Availability and Dependability

The first advantage offered by medical transport service providers is that they are always available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Their availability makes them a dependable resort whenever patients need mobility options to and from their respective medical appointments. As long as the necessary arrangements have been made, patients can receive any essential transport solution (air or ground) in the shortest time possible. Unlike other options, patients don’t have to wait long hours before they receive attention.

On-the-trip Access to Qualified Relevant Medical Personnel

Another significant benefit of hospital transport services is that they provide patients with access to qualified medical personnel while on the trip. This service is vital, especially when the patient has a crucial medical ailment that requires close monitoring. This way, the medical professional can examine the patient’s medical status regularly and offer immediate care if the need arises during the trip. With such close monitoring and medical care, the risk of a health crisis while on the journey can be eliminated.

Affordability

Access to quality medical transportation service is usually expensive. However, hospital transport services provide patients with a solution that is efficient and cost-effective. When compared to other options within this category, hospital transport services are usually cheaper. Once a patient schedules an appointment, a driver and a vehicle are matched, and the patient’s reservation is enqueued, respectively. This eliminates a last-minute rush on the expected date or time of pick-up.

Access to Auxiliary Mobility Equipment

Only selected transport services provide riders with relevant auxiliary equipment (such as stretchers, wheelchairs, etc.) to ease mobility in and out of the vehicle. Thankfully, by hiring the services of a hospital transport service, you can access such benefits. The vehicles used for this service are mainly designed to accommodate essential equipment like wheelchairs, stretchers, etc. while providing the highest level of comfort to the patient on the trip.

Safety

Besides comfort, high-quality equipment, trained staff, and so on, safety is a crucial concern when transporting patients. Hospital transport services make it a priority to ensure the safety of their patients from trip to trip until they finally arrive back at home. Usually, these services make additional security installations such as GPS, tracking systems, etc., to ensure the safety and whereabouts of their respective patients. Furthermore, they provide regular communication with the driver en-route until the patient has safely arrived at their destination.

According to Britannica, older adults are folks of ages 60 and above. At this age, many mental and physical transformations occur that can affect a person’s overall well-being. 

Although older adults tend to suffer a decline in well-being, an area of their life that is typically affected is their mobility. Most old adults find it difficult to independently move from one place to another. 

As they age, the capacity to attend social functions, go shopping or keep up with medical appointments drops. Thus, there’s a need to provide support and care for them as they experience age-related changes. 

An excellent way to assist the elderly is through easy access to alternative transportation options. These options will help them regain balance in life. 

Although there are various elderly transport opportunities available to older adults; yet, it’s essential to take cognizance of factors that affect the mobility of the elderly. 

Conditions Affecting the Driving Ability of the Elderly

  1. Reduced Visibility – Old age is synonymous with a decline in eyesight. Most adults may not notice these developments not until the condition deteriorates. This is because vision problems may be painless during the early stages. 

However, when these diseases advance, the elderly are likely to lose their vision or have poor visibility. Hence, it isn’t always advisable for them to drive themselves due to the risk of an accident.

To support this fact, the Fatality Analysis Reporting System (FARS) re-counted that older drivers of ages 60 and above had an increased rate of accident fatalities.

On that note, the elderly who suffer these sicknesses are likely to lose their driving ability. Hence, elderly transport options become vital to helping older adults move around.

Transportation Services Available for the Elderly

To assist older people with movement, below are three transportation services they can choose from;

  1. Carpooling – This type of transportation allows a group of elderly persons to journey together to a specific place. A particular driver is in charge of coordinating and conveying them to and from their destination. Meanwhile, it’s crucial to note that this type of elderly transport works for seniors journeying towards the same destination, such as a medical appointment.  
  1. Non-emergency transport – For transporting elderly persons to and from a medical facility, across long distances, or from one health institution to another, non-emergency transport is often the best option. Here, medical personnel escorts the senior to ensure that they receive adequate medical care during transit.
  1. Door-to-door transport  When using door-to-door transportation, elderly persons are allowed to make reservations, such as deciding on the time of their journey and where they will be transported.

Conclusion

Old age is a fascinating phase of life. However, health-related challenges such as reduced visibility, chronic diseases, and immobility are typical with aging people. Fortunately, the elderly transport options mentioned above can help older adults retain a level of independence and freedom.

A publication by the United Nations in 2019 revealed that over 703 million people are above 65. By 2050, according to their analysis, the figure will rise to 1.5 billion. This group is more susceptible to life-threatening and chronic diseases.

An increase in their population will further upsurge the already increasing rate of chronic diseases like cardiovascular diseases, cancer, and diabetes, leading to higher demand for medical services, including transport medical services.

Because these chronic diseases usually occur as emergency cases and require the attention of a specialist, there is a need for a means to transfer patients quickly to where they will receive proper medical attention, hence the importance of air medical transport. This transportation type uses fixed-wing (airplane) and rotary-wing (helicopter) aircraft to relocate patients, thereby boycotting the challenges faced by road ambulances.

The increase in demand for medical aircraft will boost the size of the air ambulance services market. As of 2019, the market size was USD 4,476.9 million, and this will increase to USD 8773.6 million by 2027, as revealed by this report. Of the two types of aircraft, the rotary-wing is forecasted to be in higher demand, as was seen during the coronavirus pandemic. 

Advantages/Challenges

The significant advantage of air transportation against land transportation is its speed, a critical factor in emergencies. Also, it helps to avoid bad roads and heavy traffic situations.

On the other hand, air medical transport’s hindrances range from the higher cost of operation and maintenance to its sensitivity to weather conditions, especially the rotary-wing aircraft. More so, air transport is a riskier option than land. This study revealed that between 1992 to 2011 (20 years), there were about 4500 ambulance accidents, 29 of which led to fatal injuries. However, between 1998 to 2008 (10 years), there were 146 helicopter accidents, 50 (34%), leading to deadly injuries.

The Future

A Canadian engineer and innovator, Charles Bombardier, created over 360 futuristic aero designs, proposed an idea to the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO). The idea is a flying ambulance, The Ambular, developed from his previous concepts of an autonomous twin-track motorized stretcher powered by two hydraulic motors that could bring down wounded patients from mountains, and an autonomous motorbike with a stretcher that transports patients faster.

The Ambular is designed to navigate tight and difficult urban areas with the aid of an AI. The aim is, if an accident occurs, people can request an ambulance service from the closest paramedic, who boards the aircraft, which then carries them to the accident scene. Skilled pilots in the command center would remotely control the aircraft. The Ambular project was born in 2018 and is a work in progress.

Conclusion

With continuous advancements in technology and an accompanying increase in health emergencies and complications, air medical transport has come to stay in modern medicine. Though not completely free of obstacles, innovations like Ambular, which beats the weather challenge by flying at a much lower altitude, are moving in the right direction. The advantages of air medical transportation are far higher compared to land in the context of emergencies.