Chances are good you’ve probably never thought about who owns your ambulance service, but you should. Like any business, who owns it can make a good deal of difference in the service – or in this case, the care – you receive.
Just like many industries and businesses, ambulance services have a wide range of operation types and can be nationally or locally owned. Some are not even based in the United States. If you are a healthcare facility owner/operator or a community emergency services director looking to partner with an ambulance service it’s helpful to know the difference a locally-owned service makes.
Locally-owned and operated ambulance companies such as MedStar are fully-committed members of the communities they serve. And while the owners of MedStar began their careers in emergency medical services working for a national company, they started their own local ambulance company after experiencing the “big business” attitude and impersonal touch associated with a large, national firm.
There’s an old saying that a service organization’s most valuable assets walk out the door every night. That refers, of course, to employees and here at MedStar we know how true that is.
As an emergency medical care and transportation company we strive to be the very best and as a result we attract the very best emergency medical care professionals. We know how valuable they are to our organization and our patients and we like to think we have a solid history of demonstrating our employee appreciation. We know our employees are the best in the business and every year MedStar tries to find new ways to celebrate their contributions to our company and community. From our annual holiday raffle and EMS Night at The Mountain to our yearly EMS Week gifts and meals, we strive to show our people just how much we appreciate them. They deserve recognition.
This year alone we’re giving out almost two dozen life-saving awards which recognize the remarkable work our fantastic EMTs and Paramedics have done when they’ve restarted a patient’s heart after they’ve experienced cardiac arrest. As a result, those patients are able to continue a normal life, thanks to the extraordinary efforts of our crews.
When someone picks up the phone and calls 9-1-1, they automatically assume that help will be coming. But most people don’t know what happens behind the scenes that enables that response — the systems in place to get the right people to the right place and the chain of events that get triggered with every emergency call.
When you make a 9-1-1 call from a landline phone at a residence, business, or other location, the phone number from which you are calling determines which 9-1-1 center receives the call for assistance. Cell phone calls, however, are processed differently, though there are similarities. Cell phones transmit a signal to the nearest cellular tower. The signal is transmitted to the closest 9-1-1 center, as determined by the location of the cell tower that receives the incoming call. Because mobile phone call routing can be complex, cell phone calls are sometimes not routed to the correct 9-1-1 call center; however, 9-1-1 staff are trained to direct your call to the correct center to get the help you need.
Response time for emergency medical responders such as EMTs and paramedics is a major focus for emergency care companies and their employees who are committed to serving the public and saving lives.
While there are no federal laws regarding emergency medical response times, since the 1970s, the gold standard for determining the quality of an EMS system has been to arrive within eight minutes 90 percent of the time. Here at MedStar, we’re proud to be able to claim typical response times that are significantly better than that – in Fitchburg, our emergency medical personnel are on the scene in less than five minutes after dispatch. In Gardner, response time is typically cut to an average of a mere three minutes.
How do we do it?
You would expect every medical transportation and ambulance service company to claim outstanding patient care – after all, who would want to claim that their emergency care services are just okay? Although it’s one thing to stake a claim at being the best ambulance service, it’s quite another to back it up with performance.
MedStar consistently goes above and beyond to ensure the highest level of care is provided to each and every patient. For over ten years, our mission has been defined by one, simple statement: every patient deserves to be treated as if they were a member of our family.
To make sure that we hold ourselves to the high standards we claim, our quality assurance department performs a review on every patient care encounter to ensure the highest level of service and strict adherence to statewide treatment guidelines. Our ongoing education programs provide comprehensive in-house training to our employees, encompassing a wide range of topics that include the latest information from medical journal studies and improvements in patient care.
Ask the average person on the street what medical care transportation is and chances are they’ll have one response: “an ambulance.” But today, quality medical transportation is so much more than just an “ambulance ride.”
At Medstar, we provide a comprehensive range of transportation options designed to meet a variety of medical emergency and non-emergency healthcare transportation needs. Our goal is to provide optimal, compassionate care to fit the patient’s specific requirements – whether it’s an emergency trip to the hospital or a scheduled appointment for routine care.
Our three levels of transportation services include:
There are a number of professional ambulance and emergency medical care companies in Central Massachusetts, so what sets MedStar apart from all the rest? Our commitment to our patients and our willingness to invest in the latest technology to help ensure their safety and well-being.
Our ambulances and emergency medical technicians are equipped with the most advanced emergency care technology available, including Stryker power stretchers that eliminate the need to physically lift our patients. These high-quality hydraulic stretchers enable our EMTs to safely and comfortably lift patients up to 700 pounds. The outstanding ergonomic design of our Stryker stretchers provide an extra level of comfort, safety, and security to our patients that is typically not available anywhere else.
There is no way to sugarcoat the drug abuse problem that is currently sweeping the country – more Americans are dying from opioid abuse right now than in any other time in our history. The availability of these powerful painkillers has led to the over-prescription of them, resulting in abuse, addiction, and death. Since 1999, the rate of overdose deaths involving opioids—including prescription opioid pain relievers and heroin—nearly quadrupled, and over 165,000 people have died from prescription opioid overdoses. Prescription pain medication deaths remain far too high, and in 2014, the most recent year on record, there was a sharp increase in heroin-involved deaths and an increase in deaths involving synthetic opioids such as fentanyl.
Over 78 Americans are dying every day from an opioid overdose and the strain is telling on the country’s ambulance services, emergency medical personnel, and first responders in general. Overdosed patients are clogging the system and tying up valuable resources needed for other individuals who, through no fault of their own, are in desperate need of immediate medical attention that is often committed to treating and transporting drug overdose cases.
Despite the best efforts being made by the government to ensure that all citizens are adequately covered by insurance, the truth is that many are still not. As a result, emergency medical services such as ambulance companies are misused by individuals who are not suffering from an immediate and health- or life-threatening illness or injury and are trying to take advantage of what they consider a “free service.”
Of course, anyone who has been injured or becomes dangerously ill should never hesitate to call 911 and initiate a response by emergency medical personnel and an ambulance service. Fast and effective emergency treatment and transport to a medical facility can make all the difference in the world. But someone who doesn’t feel well and wants a free ride to the hospital should think twice about making that call. Here’s why:
Ambulance billing is a highly-complex process subject to regulatory compliance and the pressure to get it right to avoid over-charging clients and patients and, worse, accidentally violating the law.
Unlike other medical specialties, the care provided by the emergency medical personnel of an ambulance service is not based on a definitive diagnosis. Instead, patients often have to be treated based on their apparent condition. As a result, the coding and billing for services rendered are based on the patient care report filed by the ambulance crew as well as the run sheets filled out at the time a patient is picked up. Accurate documentation in the patient care report is absolutely critical, especially for compliance and insurance claims. That can make all the difference in the world between claims and payments being processed smoothly or having them stuck in limbo and the patient potentially getting stuck with a bill that would have been covered by insurance had the coding and billing been handled properly.
So why is ambulance service billing so complicated?