Global Statistics Representing Air Ambulance Market Scenario
Air ambulances, as the name suggests, are aerial vehicles outfitted with medical devices and manned with trained medical crew. They are used to rescues patients during emergencies as well as transport critical patients between medical facilities. While air ambulances are used to transfer trauma patients, their accessibility in retrieving patients from remote locations is undeniably their biggest advantage. Globally, the increasing prevalence of road accidents, military rescue and aid operations, rescue operations on the sea and in remote areas, and demand for emergency healthcare services drive the air ambulance market.
Air Ambulances – Need of the Hour?
According to the U.S.’s National Association of Insurance Commissioners, an ambulance trip – at an average of 52 miles – costs between USD 12,000 and USD 25,000. The staggering cost associated with air ambulances has raised the question of their necessity, or the lack of it, in some circles. The high cost somewhat hinders widespread adoption in the air ambulance market, restricting them to emergency scenarios in developed countries. The ambiguity surrounding air ambulances’ usefulness arises from the lack of sufficient data. Studies related to air ambulances and patient outcomes have been conducted, but there exists a need for insight on how air ambulances compare to road ambulances in terms of patient care and outcome.
A study titled ‘Helicopter versus ground ambulance: review of national database for outcomes in survival in transferred trauma patients in the USA’ by Michaels D, Pham H, Puckett Y, et. al analyzed a total of 469,407 transferred trauma patients. The findings indicated that patients had improved survival in the case of a helicopter ambulance as compared to a road ambulance.
Regardless of how well their efficiency can be articulated, air ambulances can prove crucial in severe cases where care provided during the ‘golden hour’ plays a big role in patient outcome and survival. In trauma cases from accidents, rescue operations, and conflict-ridden areas, air ambulances and the medical care on board can be the decision-making factor in a patient’s recovery and the treatment course to be pursued.
Developed vs. Developing World
Much like most other healthcare services, air ambulances register larger adoption in developed regions of the world. Significant investments from the public sector drive market growth in developed countries such as the U.S., Canada, and the U.K. For instance, in February 2019, Stephen Hammond, the U.K.’s Health Minister, invited air ambulance charities in the country to apply for funds amounting to a total of USD 11.3 million. Nine applicants were chosen and announced in July 2019, and the funds will be allocated to purchase new equipment and upgrade facilities.
Developing regions are also taking strides to keep pace with their developed counterparts. Governments are collaborating with private players to foster the growth of their regional air ambulance markets and consequently, add new transportation modes to aid emergency medical cases. For instance, in August 2018, the state of Tamil Nadu in India was working on a public-private partnership with Ganga Hospitals, among other experienced organizations, to introduce an air ambulatory service for organ transplants within the state.
While a number of factors contribute to the growth of the air ambulance market, the growing geriatric population remains one of the key forces behind the growing demand. According to the United Nations (UN), the population aged 65 years and above is expanding faster than any other age group globally. As per the UN’s World Population Prospects: the 2019 Revision, for the first time ever, the population aged 65 years and above grew larger than the population of children under five years of age. The rapidly expanding aging demographic is accelerating demand for better medical facilities and services, including air ambulances.
Operational Challenges for Players Engaged in Providing Air Ambulance Services
Seamless coordination and communication is undeniably the biggest challenge for players in the market. Transporting patients via air ambulances is a complex process wherein the ground crew and hospital staff must be in sync. This may prove tricky in cases where the air ambulance and hospital providers are different.
While operational challenges exist in every vertical, the nature of work air ambulances engage in, makes them particularly prone to litigation and liability. For instance, the Office of the Chief Coroner for Ontario reviewed Ornge Air Ambulance Transport Related Deaths and released a report in July 2013. The review aimed to identify links between operational issues and fatalities at Ornge, Ontario’s non-profit, which provides air ambulance service and medical transport for critically ill or injured patients. It labeled two of the 40 cases reviewed as ‘Definite Impact on Outcome’ and one as ‘Probable Impact’. In other words, the review concluded that two fatalities were directly linked to operational issues at Ornge, while the probability of operation issues having contributed to fatality in one case was pegged to be high.
Market Growth, to a Great Degree, Will Depend on Insurance Providers Adding Air Ambulances in Their Listing
The market is slated to register more widespread adoption as insurance providers continue to expand the expanse of their coverage, bringing air ambulances into the fold. Government and private providers alike are offering favorable reimbursements and this scenario will bolster market growth in the coming years. Without insurance, air ambulance services – with their steep prices – will stay far beyond the reach of a majority of the global population.
What the Report Covers
Rotary Wing Air Ambulances (Helicopters) to Account for a Large Share of the Pie
Rotary wing and fixed wing are the two types of air ambulances studied in the report. Rotary wing air ambulances typically refer to helicopters and are employed to transport patients over short distances, such as from the accident scene to the hospital or between two different hospitals or facilities. More often, these ambulances are used as a substitute for ground ambulances. On the other hand, fixed-wing air ambulances are used to commute long-distances such as interhospital transports and only fly between airports.
Among the two types of air ambulances, rotary wing captures a larger share of the market. According to the Atlas & Database of Air Medical Services (ADAMS), there were 1,045 helicopter and 360 fixed-wing air ambulances as of 2016. In other words, helicopters accounted for a little over 74% of all air ambulances. The Association of Air Medical Services United States estimates that the U.S. MedEvac industry completes nearly 400,000 rotor-wing transports annually and fixed-wing aircraft fly an additional 150,000 patients.
Hospital-Based Services to Account for a Larger Value Share Throughout the Forecast Period
Air ambulance services can be categorized into community-based services and hospital-based services. In the community-based services model, the aviation operator owns the ambulance, directly engages pilots and mechanics, contracts medical direction, flight nurses, and paramedics, and deals in patient billing. Operators provide services through partnerships with community health organizations and private players and services may be profit-based or non-profit.
North America Will Remain the Most Prominent Market, With Impetus from Burgeoning Growth in the U.S.
Globally, North America dominates the global air ambulance market. The presence of adequate infrastructure, defined regulatory framework, and favorable reimbursement policies contribute to the region’s eminent market position. The emphasis on healthcare across the region remains intense and will only increase in years to come; thus, future growth prospects for North America’s air ambulance market are pegged to remain positive during the forecast period.
Exponential growth in the number of medical bases across the U.S. is accelerating the demand for air ambulances in a bid to improve the square mile coverage and access to medical services. In the U.S., population coverage within a 15–20-minute response area grew from 71.2% in 2003 to 86.4% in 2016, as per the Association of Air Medical Services (AAMS).
Europe to Rank Second, With Regional Insurance Players Rapidly Adding Air Ambulances in Their Listings
North America is projected to be followed by Europe in terms of value share in the global air ambulance market. Across Europe, healthcare services vary as per geographical coverage, population density, and government policies. Rising prosperity in developing countries and austerity-driven privatization in developed countries drive the demand for air ambulances in the region. Importantly, several European insurance companies have listed air ambulances in recent years, which will definitely bolster their uptake in years to come.
Large-Scale Investments to Drive Rapid Growth in Asia-Pacific
Air ambulances services are also gaining momentum in Asia-Pacific, where the market is flourishing against a backdrop of favorable airspace regulations, infrastructure development, and aggressive investment initiatives. Government support and relaxation in airspace restrictions particularly foster market growth in the region; for instance, the China State Council opened airspace below 3,000 meters for the general aviation industry in 2016, radically multiplying the heights and routes that air ambulances in the country can use.
Some of the key players in the global air ambulance market are American Medical Response, Inc. (AMR), PHI Air Medical, Babcock Scandinavian Air Ambulance (SAA), IAS Medical, Express Air Medical Transport, LLC, Air Methods, Lifeguard Ambulance Service LLC, REVA, Inc., and Acadian Air Med.
Global Air Ambulance Market: Segmentation
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