This post is part of my series on new trends in healthcare. Today’s post covers Uber instead of an ambulance, EMT care in your home, and tablets for hospital patients.
Is Uber the new ambulance service?
Certainly, we all know to call 911 when we, a loved one, or even a stranger, needs emergency medical help. Most of us grew up with our city/town providing free EMT and ambulance service.
However, the days of a free ride are rapidly dwindling. Instead, many patients get huge bills for an EMT visit and/or ambulance trip. To learn more, read my blog post Why are Ambulance Rides so Expensive?
Rideshare services to the rescue.
Because many Americans are concerned about healthcare expense, many turn to rideshare services such as Uber, instead of ambulances, to take them to the hospital.
How often do people use rideshares instead of ambulances?
Researchers analyzed ambulance use in 750+ cities in 43 states in which Uber operated. Results showed Uber’s entry to an area reduced ambulance utilization by at least 7%.
Is this a good thing?
Yes – if used wisely.
Certainly, never call a rideshare service instead of an ambulance if you need immediate medical attention or have a life-threatening condition. But if you have an injury or illness that warrants a visit to the ER but doesn’t need immediate help or assistance on the route, then calling a rideshare service can make sense.
Additionally, with a decrease in the use of ambulances for minor ailments, ambulances may be able to respond more quickly to those who need medical attention immediately, such as heart attack patients or serious car accidents.
Emergency care in your home.
Speaking of ambulances, another trend developing is the treatment by an EMT or first responder in your home, instead of being transported to a hospital. Many patients who call 911 require medical attention but don’t need to visit an ER. This new model of care is called “mobile integrated health’.
Is this service available everywhere?
Hospitals and insurers are both working to improve the delivery of emergency medicine. Right now there are more than 100 such programs in the US. In some programs, participants call a special number, not 911.
Is getting emergency care in your home good for patients?
A resounding yes! Certainly, getting medical care in your home saves you time and money. And it eliminates the risk of you getting sick from fellow ER patients or from acquiring a hospital based infection. I think we can all agree that we’d like to be treated at home instead of waiting hours and hours to be seen in an ER!
Hospitals provide tablets for communication, education, and entertainment.
Years ago, hospital patients had to pay a surcharge to get access to a TV with fuzzy reception and just a few channels. Luckily, we no longer suffer with bad, expensive tv at the hospital!
Not only do hospitals provide TVs at no additional charge, some hospitals provide tablets as well! These bedside tablets aid in education, communication and entertainment.
How do hospital patients use these tablets?
Patients can use the tablets in many ways, including:
- Watch educational videos to help them understand their condition, treatment, side effects, follow-up care, and more, which can reinforce and/or supplement information discussed with their medical team or provided in printed materials
- View movies, play games and access the internet
- Communicate with providers and family
- Request assistance from staff
- Order food
- Better manage pain with sound therapy and improved medication requests
- Learn the ins and outs of the hospital
Additionally, staff can remotely monitor patients via video.
Tablets can also help patients know their care team.
In any academic medical center, patients often receive care from many medical professionals from various departments. This can lead patients to become confused or overwhelmed by the steady procession of new medical team members through their room. Tablets can ease patient stress by providing photos of each care team member.
This is a great development!
What could be bad about better communication, educational videos, and entertainment?