Just a few months ago, the medical emergency services sector grappled with challenges such as shortage of ambulances, medical equipment and trained personnel, along with increased hospital admission time. While we can partially blame the lack of planning and preparedness within the sector, most of the players couldn’t have foreseen or predicted what eventually transpired. Now, with the imminent ‘Third Covid Wave’, it is an important opportunity for the ambulance and paramedical services aggregators to emerge as true heroes in the face of impending adversity.
In order to provide quick and reliable services in medical emergencies, aggregators must focus on three fronts so that they can plan in advance for the Third Wave: Fleet, Inventory, and Technology.
FLEET: The ambulance fleet is the most important aspect of planning in this space. Data suggests that ambulance utilization rates across the industry were at more than 100% in the months of April and May while there was also a 5X increase in the number of calls received on a daily basis during the same period. This includes increased demand for Basic Life Support (BLS), Advanced Cardiac Life Support (ACLS) and Patient Transfer (PT) ambulances. Players must ramp up their fleets accordingly in order to service equivalent or higher demand during the Third Wave. Additionally, Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) support and fabrication must also be installed in ambulances, with reports suggesting higher vulnerability in children and infants. Aggregators must also actively hire call centre executives, drivers and paramedic staff across cities to provide better service.
INVENTORY: One major learning from the first two Covid-19 waves for most ambulance aggregators is the need to judiciously manage stocks of crucial medical equipment. For this, they can tie up with local vendors across cities for a perennial supply of portable, type B & D oxygen cylinders and concentrators. Equipment like PPE kits, disposable gloves, kid-sized masks, ventilator tubes and medical kits can also be sourced via local vendors and e-pharmacies. For infants and children, a calculated supply of Bag-Valve-Mask (BVM), nasal cannulas, catheters, pulse oximeters with pediatric probes and incubators must be ensured.
TECHNOLOGY: GPS-based aggregator technology connects the numerous and dispersed ambulatory services across the country directly to people, eliminating any time lapse in search and discovery. GPS and internet-enabled ambulances, geocode systems like What3Words and remote monitoring devices can ensure the shortest response time for emergency cases. Aggregators must also provide training to on-ground staff, based on the protocols shared by the national and state governments. Also, remote monitoring devices can be installed in ACLS ambulances to relay patient data to concerned doctors who can then guide the paramedic staff.
In addition to the three aforementioned aspects, the standardisation of quality paramedic facilities, empowered, well-trained, experienced medical staff, and rapid response times are crucial to the success of ambulance aggregator services in dealing with the next Covid wave. If we can reach and sustain a call answer rate of 100%, ambulance dispatch of 3-4 minutes, and an average turnaround time of under 30 minutes, we should with confidence be able to face any challenge in the future.
Author: Pranav Bajaj, Co-founder, Medulance
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