COVID-19 IMPACT SURVEY MAY 2020
The rapidly spreading pandemic across the globe and increasing COVID-19 infections among the vulnerable age groups are pushing up the pressure on ambulance services. The COVID-19 pandemic has exposed the inadequacies of emergency health response systems worldwide. Even before the pandemic, despite the improvements and technology sophistication achieved in medicine and healthcare, the worrisome global rise in mortality rates due to delayed emergency responses was a major area of concern. The need of the hour is therefore enhancing the quality and efficiency of ambulance services. Higher hospitalization rates among older COVID-19 patients are largely due to co-morbidities which are common in older age groups which pushes up critical care needs. Patient transport from hospitals to extracorporeal membrane oxygenation (ECMO) centers will therefore be more frequent and higher. A fallout of the crisis will be immediate increase in government funds for upgrading and expanding healthcare and healthcare response/ support infrastructure. By 2030, countries will be required to increase healthcare spending by an additional 1.5% to 2% of GDP to ensure efficiency and easy access to healthcare. The market, under such a scenario, is projected to reach a revised US$54 billion by the year 2027.
As always, the market even in the post COVID-19 period will continue to be driven by the increasing number of emergency calls by the elderly; national level priority given to emergency patient transport services; improving healthcare infrastructure and improvement in emergency preparedness. Older adults and their vulnerability to ambulatory care sensitive conditions will strengthen the focus on geriatric emergency preparedness. Probability of emergency admissions for ambulatory care sensitive conditions (ACSCS) is significantly higher. ACSCs conditions include diabetes, asthma, COPD, pelvic inflammatory disease, gastroenteritis, congestive heart failure, epilepsy, cellulite is and bacterial pneumonia. Health services delivery performance is critical for timely hospitalizations for ACSCs. Also, poor overall quality of primary and community care and case management raises the risk of emergency conditions that require hospital admissions. Other factors which will continue to spur growth in the market include changes in social support systems, rise in road accidents and natural calamities, growing community health awareness, developments in telecommunications and connectivity technologies for smart connected ambulance; aging population and their complex medical needs, legislative changes focusing on providing improved paramedic care and increased private insurance coverage of ambulance expenditure.
Adoption of telemetric and GPS based ambulance fleet management and tracking technologies is expected to increase significantly in the coming years as pressure mounts to improve the quality and reliability of emergency patient transport services. With response rates lower than 10 minutes, ambulance drones are already growing in popularity for their ability to push up patient survival rates by over 80%. The pandemic interestingly has catalyzed this trend. The United States represents the largest market worldwide supported by the strong focus shed on citizen services. Rest of the World comprising Asia-Pacific, Latin America, the Middle East and Africa will remain key to future growth, led by factors such as growing population and healthcare burden: pressure to improve healthcare emergency response and preparedness; and government policy led development of healthcare infrastructure especially pre-hospital emergency care system. Medical tourism will continue to increase patient transportation needs and will boost demand for non-emergency helicopter ambulance services in developing countries in the post COVID-19 period.