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Is Telemedicine Making Air Ambulance Services Less Relevant?


Rural America has been one of the biggest markets for air ambulance services in recent times. The growing innovations in the medical field and the inability of rural health care facilities to catch up with these innovations, had earlier forced most rural patients to seek help in urban hospitals. Last year alone, 13 hospitals in the rural areas had closed down. This should have naturally increased the demand for air ambulance services since critical patients and emergency cases would need quick access to urban medical facilities. However, the demand for air ambulances has not been growing proportionately. The foremost reason behind this has been the cheaper alternative in the form of telemedicine.

Telemedicine is a Low Cost Alternative to Air Ambulance Services

Take for instance La Grande, Oregon; it is a town with a population of just 13,000. Today, the 25-bed hospital of this small town has access to over 19 super-specialties through telemedicine, drastically reducing the need for air ambulance services needed to ferry the patients to urban medical centers. Mayo Clinic of Arizona is tapping into the patient base of 15 hospitals in rural America today. It is catering to the needs of patients in need of emergency neurological care for ailments such as strokes.

What is the Rural Air Ambulance Services Market Staring at?

Telemedicine is increasing the confidence of rural patients in local hospitals, largely curtailing the need for air ambulance services. Take the example of Lincoln Hospital situated in Davenport, Washington. After the introduction of telemedicine the patient base has increased by 25% while the transfers to urban medical facilities have come down by 21%. The result has been a whopping $1 million increase in revenue for this hospital, according to Harvard Business Review. The people now have affordable care and elimination of the need for air ambulance services is just a part of it. Of course, the need for air ambulance services cannot be completely eliminated. There are always going to be some medical cases that need transportation to urban hospitals as all medical solutions cannot be given through telemedicine.

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