Different Types of Medical Transportation

Medical transportation has existed ever since injured people have needed to be taken to the nearest healer or doctor. Ancient Greek and Roman soldiers have sometimes carried off the line of battle on their shields. For high-ranking officials and military leaders, a chariot might be used to speed the evacuation. In later wars, horse-drawn carriages would ferry soldiers from the fighting to the aid station. In small towns, an ambulance was often unnecessary, as the local doctor would visit the infirm in their own homes. Today, the most common way to get an injured person to a hospital or treatment location is with an automobile ambulance. However, there are many other forms of ambulances throughout the world. Here are three ways, other than automobiles, that people are taken to hospitals.

Helicopter

After automobiles, the most common form of medical transportation, at least in the United States, is the helicopter. Helicopters first saw major use as transport vehicles during the Korean War. The United States military showed how effectively they could be used to deliver troops to remote locations, and retrieve them quickly when needed. Today, helicopters are used for very severe injuries, where every second gained is vital to the survival of the patient. A helicopter can carry a patient from the scene of an accident to a nearby hospital in significantly less time than a traditional ambulance. Along with the greater speed of a helicopter, which can reach up to 250 mph, it also does not have to contend with the traffic and other obstacles that any road poses. Helicopters are also used to pick patients up from remote locations that are inaccessible to other means of transport, such as islands, wilderness, and mountaintops.

Ship

When accidents occur on lakes, around islands, or along the coast, water ambulances are often used to carry survivors to the nearest hospital. Due to their larger size, these ships usually have several trained personnel on board, as well as more, and better, equipment, when compared to an automobile. For accidents that happen far out to sea, coast guards around the world will aid injured passengers and take them to the nearest land to receive treatment. In severe cases, a helicopter may be dispatched to pick up a patient from a ship while still at sea. Due to the remote nature of the sea, and the obligation any vessel has to respond to a distress call, commercial cargo ships, fishing boats, and private yachts often provide medical transportation as well.

Plane

By far the least commonly used medical transportation method, planes are nonetheless important. The most common use of planes to transport patients is when a patient needs to receive treatment at a specific facility. This might be because the facility has the best surgeon in a particular field or is where the person donating an organ is located. Although rarely used, plane ambulances can save lives.

Community Needs Health Assessment

In 2012 the Internal Revenue Service mandated that all non-profit hospitals undertake a community health needs assessment (CHNA) that year and every three years thereafter. Further, these hospitals need to file a report every year thereafter detailing the progress that the community is making towards meeting the indicated needs. This type of assessment is a prime example of primary prevention strategy in population health management. Primary prevention strategies focus on preventing the occurrence of diseases or strengthen the resistance to diseases by focusing on environmental factors generally.

I believe that it is very fortunate that non-profit hospitals are carrying out this activity in their communities. By assessing the needs of the community and by working with community groups to improve the health of the community great strides can be made in improving public health, a key determinant of one’s overall health. As stated on the Institute for Healthcare Improvement’s Blue Shirt Blog (CHNAs and Beyond: Hospitals and Community Health Improvement), “There is growing recognition that the social determinants of health – where we live, work, and play, the food we eat, the opportunities we have to work and exercise and live in safety – drive health outcomes. Of course, there is a large role for health care to play in delivering health care services, but it is indisputable that the foundation of a healthy life lies within the community. To manage true population health – that is, the health of a community – hospitals and health systems must partner with a broad spectrum of stakeholders who share ownership for improving health in our communities.” I believe that these types of community involvement will become increasingly important as reimbursement is driven by value.

Historically, healthcare providers have managed the health of individuals and local health departments have managed the community environment to promote healthy lives. Now, with the IRS requirement, the work of the two are beginning to overlap. Added to the recent connection of the two are local coalitions and community organizations, such as religious organizations.

The community in which I live provides an excellent example of the new interconnections of various organizations to collectively improve the health of the community. In 2014 nine non-profits, including three hospitals, in Kent County, Michigan conducted a CHNA of the county to assess the strengths and weaknesses of health in the county and to assess the community’s perceptions of the pressing health needs. The assessment concluded that the key areas of focus for improving the health of the community are:

· Mental health issues

· Poor nutrition and obesity

· Substance abuse

· Violence and safety

At this time the Kent County Health Department has begun developing a strategic plan for the community to address these issues. A wide variety of community groups have begun meeting monthly to form this strategic plan. There are four work groups, one for each of the key areas of focus. I am involved in the Substance Abuse workgroup as a representative of one of my clients, Kent Intermediate School District. Other members include a substance abuse prevention coalition, a Federally qualified health center, a substance abuse treatment center and the local YMCA, among others. The local hospitals are involved in other workgroups. One of the treatment group representatives is a co-chair of our group. The health department wants to be sure that the strategic plan is community driven.

At the first meeting the health department leadership stated that the strategic plan must be community driven. This is so in order that the various agencies in the community will buy into the strategic plan and will work cooperatively to provide the most effective prevention and treatment services without overlap. The dollars spent on services will be more effective if the various agencies work to enhance each others’ work, to the extent possible.

At this time the Substance Abuse work group is examining relevant data from the 2014 CHNA survey and from other local resources. The epidemiologist at the health department is reviewing relevant data with the group so that any decisions about the goals of the strategic plan will be data driven. Using data to make decisions is one of the keystones of the group’s operating principles. All objectives in the strategic plan will be specific, measurable, achievable, realistic and time-bound (SMART).

Once the strategic plan is finished, the groups will continue with implementation of the plan, evaluating the outcomes of the implementation and adjusting the plan as needed in light of evaluation. As one can see, the workgroups of the CHNA are following the classic Plan-Do-Check-Act process. This process has been shown time and again in many settings-healthcare, business, manufacturing, et al-to produce excellent outcomes when properly followed.

Urgent Care And Why The Services Are Beneficial

Urgent care centers are set up to offer urgent assistance to patients with injuries or illnesses that are not life threatening, but still cannot wait till the next day to get primary care from a doctor. The facilities come in handy, especially when primary care physicians are closed or where access to quality healthcare facilities is limited.

It is important to remember that urgent care does not substitute emergency care. There are situations that are considered an emergency and as such they should be treated by checking the patient to the ER in a well-equipped facility because they can endanger the life or permanently impair the patient. Deep knife wound, seizures, severe chest pains and pregnancy related problems and many others are all serious and considered an emergency. Urgent care facilities may not be able to handle such, but will handle less serious medical situations like fever, flu, diarrhea, vomiting, sprains and strains, falls, moderate back pains, eye irritation and such irritating but not life threatening situations.

The benefits

1. Urgent care clinics require no appointment and hence patients can walk in to get treatment they need. This is a major benefit, especially considering that you can be faced with sudden health issues that leave you very concerned such that you just can’t wait.

2. They offer services at very flexible hours. The urgent care service providers will usually remain open during weekdays and weekends and some even remain open round the clock just so you can access the services as they arise. The flexible hours offer lots of convenience, especially for patients who have busy schedules; you can check into the center even after having your dinner.

3. They offer peace of mind because you know that you can get the medical assistance that you need without necessarily waiting too long. The waiting time at an ER department can be a little longer considering how serious, some of the received cases can be. But because the urgent care clinics only deal with minor health issues, there are usually no long lines to deal with and you can get treated as soon as you get there so you spend very little time at the clinic.

4. The centers can come complete with lab testing and X-ray services so that diagnosis for patients is made faster. You might also be very lucky to get a facility that can refill your prescription saving you the trip to your healthcare provider when the time is not convenient enough.

5. They offer the services are very reasonable costs. This means that you can have your health concerns settled on a price that you can afford.

A good urgent care center should offer the necessary services for the medical situations that are not life threatening. The best facilities will attend to adult and also pediatric patients and should have the necessary medical equipment like X-ray machines so you do not end up being sent to another place for such services. In essence, an urgent care clinic should offer nothing short of convenience.