Many people may visualize an ambulance as a vehicle that goes “lights and sirens” through a busy street in order to respond to an emergency.  Over the past couple of decades an industry known as medical transportation has been emerging.  Here, an ambulance may not necessarily be used for 911 calls, but rather to transport individuals to and from medical procedures and doctor’s appointments.

Types of Ambulances

Patients can be transported via various modes.  There is the traditional “box-car” ambulance.  Then, there is the “vanbulance”, or a van-style ambulance.  Another vehicle is the MAVT, or “coach”, van, which is used to transport wheelchair-bound patients.  Many medical transportation companies have a fleet of all three.

An ambulance may be used to transport patients between their residences and dialysis centers.  It may also be used to transport bed-bound patients from nursing homes to dialysis centers and doctors’ offices.  Ambulance transportation may be utilized for inter-facility transfers of psychiatric patients.  Many nursing homes enter contracts with medical transportation companies.  If a nursing home calls 911, this call gets logged into a public call log and may negatively affect the facility’s rating.  If a nursing calls a private company for such an emergency, such a call does not go into public records.

Nonemergency Medical Transportation

Nonemergency medical transportation makes up about about a third of the ambulance services industry.  The ambulance industry is projected to grow. One factor that may help it grow is the rise in the United States’ elderly population.  One-third of Emergency Room admissions arrive via ambulance.  The occurrence of Chronic Kidney Disease (CKD) has been increasing among the elderly population.  Kidney disease, especially End-Stage Kidney Disease (ESRD), may result in an increase in the number of dialysis patients.  Dialysis, with its ability to wreak havoc on the human body, may result in the need for a patient to use ambulance transportation, in which he or she is monitored by an Emergency Medical Technician (EMT) for any major changes in condition.

One of the major causes of renal disease includes diabetes.  The incidence of diabetes among adults aged eighteen to seventy-nine has risen over the past two decades.   As medical advances have progressed over the past thirty years, the number of elderly people with diabetes dying from hyperglycemic crises has decreased.  Such a statistic indicates that people with diabetes are living longer.  As the disease progresses with age, the need for dialysis may increase.  The progression of diabetes may also result in neuropathy, which may lead to amputation of the lower extremities.  As these conditions render a person less mobile, the need for stretcher transportation may arise.

Nursing Homes and Ambulances

The nursing home industry is projected to experience high growth rates as the baby boomers age.  The number of Americans aged sixty-five and older is expected to increase to about 72,000,000 people between 2015 and 2030.  Major clients of ambulance transportation are nursing facilities, and the growth of the ambulance services industry may be concomitant with the growth of residential care units.

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