This blog is part of an interview series Medlert is publishing in collaboration with experts in EMS & medical transport.
Recently, I interviewed Glenn Leland, Chief Strategy Officer at ProTransport-1, a San Francisco-based ambulance transport company, which was named one of the 5,000 fastest-growing private companies in America in 2012.
I asked Leland how the many forces that are reshaping healthcare —skyrocketing costs, the the Affordable Care Act, and changing consumer demand—are affecting the emergency medical services and ambulance industries.
Leland pointed me to The Institute for Healthcare Improvement’s Triple Aim framework, which focuses on building a stronger health system with:
• Better patient experiences,
• Better population health, and
• Lower per capita healthcare costs.
Leland mentioned that Pro-Transport pursues all three objectives of the Triple Aim as they apply to EMS and ambulance transport as well as a fourth one, which is a focused on customer service.
“We know people have choice of which hospital to go to,” said Leland. “With a growing number of baby boomers becoming the dominant healthcare consumers, more and more people have customer service expectations. Many of these patients demand choice, and they’ll pick the places that give them great service.”
“People are going to compare quality of care and cost. I believe that customer service is going to be a key driver in EMS,” Leland said. “Today, the predominant model for ordering inter-facility ambulance is to pick up the phone and call. Then you have to negotiate an appointment time. If the nurses can’t get the time they want, then they call the next ambulance company. It’s very labor-intensive and inconvenient for the hospital staff.”
Leland highlighted how in most facilities, ordering ambulance transport creates hassles for providers and for patients.
“What Medlert has done is create a smartphone-based application that allows the nurse or case manager to order the medical transport services they need, and it fits into the flow of their other activities,” Leland said. “They can even do this while they are walking from one patient room to the next using their smartphone to order the ambulance.”
“Nurse can track the ambulance’s timeliness, which is important,” said Leland. “With the Medlert app, they’ll know if it’s going be on time or if there is going to be a delay. This is key to customer service.”
Leland went on to say that mobile tools that improve customer service for both health care providers and for patients are the way of the future.
“If you want to look at the big changes that coming to EMS, we have to look at mobile,” said Leland. “I was recently at a technology conference with many chief strategy officers of large companies, who were describing their companies’ digital strategies. When you look at PepsiCo and Coca-Cola, they are de-emphasizing television advertising strategies to focus more on Facebook, Instagram, and other mobile applications.”
“This is where the world is headed: mobile, and the same thing is going to apply to nurses and case managers when selecting an ambulance transport provider,” said Leland. “They’re going to want to use their smartphone for more and more things, including ordering ambulance transport online with a simple smartphone-based system.”
Leland concluded that the growth of mobile technology is a key driver that the EMS industry must take into account in how they work with hospitals, providers, and patients as well as other agencies and regulators.