Air ambulance services play a vital role in transporting organs for transplants around the world. For countries like the United States and the United Kingdom where air ambulance services are well-evolved, the problem of transport hardly is an issue. However, the same cannot be said about other countries like Brazil and India where the concept of medical flights is still new. Many times, even when a donor consents, logistics prove to be a hurdle to get the organs to the recipients on time. What is lacking is a robust infrastructure to make the transport possible and in time.
Air Ambulance Services Can Solve the Logistical Problem
For countries like India, there is no lack of appropriate medical facilities and expertise to conduct organ transplants. In order to make air ambulance services readily available, different logistical approaches are now being considered. One among them is keeping medical flights on standby specifically for organ transplants. The idea is to keep air ambulance services handy to address this issue. All the metropolitan cities in the country have good air connectivity. The government and private players can come together to overcome the logistical issue and make organ transportation a seamless exercise.
The Role of the Government
Almost all airports are owned by the government in most countries. The government can therefore waive off charges that are involved in upkeep and parking of air ambulances. This leaves only the costs associated with fuel and flying, which can be covered through private payers or charitable endeavors. Of course, corporate organizations too can play a vital role in bringing funds for this cause. Ultimately, the transplant costs can be covered by federal or private health insurance. If a strong ecosystem like this can be developed, it will surely save the lives of thousands. It is something that demands serious consideration today.
The No Surprises Act has got everyone talking these days. From the word go, there has been a feeling in the air ambulance industry that the regulation is going to go against it. Now, industry experts believe that the fear is turning into a reality.
The intent of the No Surprises Act is excellent. In that, it plans to exclude the patient from the picture when a payment dispute arises. In other words, when an insurance company refuses to cover the air ambulance cost in full, the burden of balance payments does not fall on the patient. It is for the insurance company and the air ambulance service provider to settle the financial differences between themselves.
The Air Ambulance Association Cites Problem with IDR
IDR stands for independent dispute resolution. It has been drafted such that insurance providers and healthcare providers (including air ambulance service providers) can hold discussions between themselves and come to a conclusion on payments. If not, they are free to approach an independent entity as defined by the No Surprises Act. However, one of the clauses set by Congress says that no single statutory factor must veer in any direction during IDR. However, the air ambulance association felt that the federal government was weighing heavily on a single factor and that is qualified payment amount or QPA.
The air ambulance association is of the opinion that the impetus solely on QPA will have disastrous consequences for the industry and also the people that it caters to. If the insurance providers are the sole authority on the payments that are to be made for medical flight services, it may prove detrimental to the industry. Ultimately, it will act as a disincentive to the air ambulance business. Many air ambulance service providers may be forced to shut their businesses.
From time to time, we bring our readers a curated list of interesting stories from the air ambulance industry. This week we managed to bring you a few happenings that were quite interesting. Here is a look.
Air Ambulance Services with Unvaccinated Patients Onboard May Not be Allowed to Enter the United States
The Bermuda Hospital board has warned people that they may be denied entry into the United States through air ambulance service even during emergencies if they are not fully vaccinated. Much of the world is still finds it hard to get access to vaccines. However, what has been even more worrying is the reluctance of people to get vaccinated. Countries like Bermuda have relied on countries like the United Kingdom and the United States for advanced treatment. Without being fully vaccinated, it might be an uphill task in the near future.
UK Man Sets on a Marathon to Raise Funds for Air Ambulance
Scott Owen set out on a marathon with a target of raising about 600 British Pounds recently. It was his way of showing his gratitude to the local air ambulance service that had saved his father’s life a few years ago. His 26-mile marathon surpassed his fund-raising expectations. He eventually ended up raising over 1200 British Pounds. Much of the air ambulance services in the United Kingdom rely on the local communities for funds.
CAMTS Awards Accreditations to an Air Ambulance Company
Accreditations are an important part of the air ambulance industry. They help air ambulance organizations to gain the trust of the general public and to maintain high standards of quality. The Commission on Accreditation of Medical Transport Systems (CAMTS) recently awarded initial accreditation to LifeGuard Air Ambulance of Cedar Rapids. The service is based out of Iowa. Along with this, it awarded re-accreditations to several other air ambulance organizations.
Let’s face it – going on vacation amid the global pandemic is not the same as it used to be. Access to medical flights is an absolute necessity. While some parts of the world have completely shut themselves down to the outside public, others have taken a cautious approach. Added to this is the fact that more variants are constantly popping up in several parts of the world. Tests to ensure infection-free passengers have become a norm today. All these things have made it tough for emergency medical flights to function without any hurdles.
Medical Flights and Insurance
The importance of travel insurance is very high in the current scenario. For instance, you go on a vacation to Bali. You arrive in the country without any symptoms, enjoy yourself, and are about to get back to your home country. The travel, of course, will require you to produce a COVID-negative medical report. What if you find out that you are positive, and over the ensuing days, find yourself battling against the symptoms of COVID infection? Would you not want to be close to your family when an instance like this occurs? It becomes virtually impossible to travel to your country given the huge costs involved in hiring medical flights across borders. This is when insurance comes into the picture.
Looking Beyond Evacuations
The symptoms that you experience may not warrant medical flights but what about staying in the country that you are visiting. If you are on a budget, things can get a little tricky and travel insurance can help. You might need to quarantine yourself in a designated facility. Of course, if the symptoms are severe, you might even need an air ambulance to get to the nearest treatment facility, which can sometimes mean taking adequate permissions and flying back to your country. All this becomes an uphill task when you do not have the right travel insurance and access to medical flights.
The air ambulance world is never short of interesting incidents and the past week was no different. Some of the rescues were quite unusual. Besides, there were some new developments that give hope to the injured. Let’s take a look.
Air Ambulance Rescues Kite Surfer in the UK
The incident was quite unusual, in that a kite surfer who was having a fun outdoor day was unexpectedly injured. He was out kite surfing in Lyme Regis beach in the United Kingdom. Suddenly, a strong blow of wind carried him over 20 feet off the ground. The subsequent fall left the surfer injured and shocked. The passers-by were quick to attend to the man and a rescue air ambulance was called. The paramedics were seen at the spot attending to him. It is not yet clear whether the person was on board the air ambulance when it took off again, but one thing is certain, he received treatment on time, thanks to the medical team on the chopper.
Air Ambulance Successfully Carries ECMO in the US
A 24-year-old patient in a Florida hospital was in need of emergency transport for a lung transplant. However, the situation was quite tricky. His oxygen requirements were not ordinary. No oxygen cylinders or ventilators would be sufficient for his condition. What he needed was extracorporeal membrane oxygen or ECMO. The device had never been used on an air ambulance. Complicating the situation was the fact that the treating hospital did not have ECMO facilities. Thankfully, in a first, an air ambulance was able to have this device onboard. The patient was successfully intubated and safely transported to a facility where he had a successful bilateral lung implant.
Air Ambulance Deployed in the Remote Himalayan Region in India
Uttarakhand, India, is a scenic place that attracts both adventurists and pilgrims. The treacherous landscape has meant that landslides and flash floods are quite common. Rescue efforts have been hampered in the past due to poor accessibility. The country’s government has now deployed rescue air ambulances to make the situation better.