The South Korea air ambulance services market share witnessed significant growth and is expected to grow at a CAGR of around 12.1% during the forecast period (2023-2031).
Air ambulances are fixed-wing or rotor-wing airplanes, or helicopters outfitted with a critical care unit and medical supplies to handle medical crises, patient transfers, and life-saving rescue operations in areas where ground vehicles cannot go. ICU respirators, ECG monitors, defibrillators, external pacemakers, invasive (intra-arterial) blood pressure (NIBP), capnometers, transport monitors, syringe pumps, blood glucose analyzers, suction units, ultrasound systems, non-invasive cardiac support pumps, fiber optic intubation systems with monitors, vacuum mattresses, cervical spine immobilization collars, intubation sets, and vacuum mattresses with monitors comprise the majority of the equipment in the Hospitals or local governments can run air ambulances.
Several reasons drive growth and development in the South Korean air ambulance services industry. With an increased emphasis on emergency medical services and developments in aviation technology, demand for air ambulance services in South Korea has increased.
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The growing need for prompt and effective emergency medical services propels the South Korean air ambulance industry forward. Air ambulances offer patients in critical circumstances with speedy transportation and sophisticated medical care, ensuring they receive prompt treatment and lowering response time in emergencies. The introduction of specialist air ambulance services in South Korea has resulted from rising awareness of the value of emergency medical services and the need for speedy access to expert medical treatment. Korea Air Ambulance (KAA), for example, is a dedicated air medical transportation company that provides emergency medical evacuation and inter-hospital transfers through helicopters outfitted with modern medical equipment and skilled medical professionals.
Limited coverage and reimbursement are some of the market restrictions in South Korea. South Korea's National Health Insurance (NHI) system covers various medical treatments, including emergency care. However, coverage for air ambulance services varies and is restricted, especially in non-emergency cases or for patients not covered by insurance or government healthcare programs. For example, private air ambulance services in South Korea may force consumers to pay the full-service cost or rely on additional insurance policies for coverage. This may result in budgetary limitations for patients and healthcare providers, limiting access to and usage of air ambulance services.
Medical technology and infrastructural advances are critical to the growth of the air ambulance services industry. The availability of cutting-edge medical technology, such as life support systems, heart monitors, and specialist medical professionals, improves air ambulances' capacity to offer high-quality medical treatment while in transit. South Korea has invested heavily in developing modern medical infrastructure, such as specialist trauma centers and hospitals outfitted with cutting-edge medical technology. This infrastructure facilitates seamless coordination between ground-based medical teams and air medical crews, allowing for the effective operation of air ambulance services.
In 2011, Korea debuted flying ambulances known as Dr. Helicopters. Most patients evacuated by Korean air ambulances have brain or cardiovascular ailments or are victims of significant trauma. In 2018, the death rate for trauma victims was roughly 30.5%. By creating trauma maps based on regional systems and authorizing night-time air ambulance missions, the Ministry of Health and Welfare hopes to reduce fatality rates to 20% by 2025. South Korea had just seven helicopters and 500 transfer stations in 2018. According to 2019 data, the nation spent USD 2.5-3 million to operate the helicopter EMS service. On the other hand, the government has 40 regional emergency medical facilities and 17 trauma centers and is trying to expand its air ambulance fleet.
According to the Ministry of Health and Welfare, the EMS helicopter service flew 9,000 times in 2019. It delivered around 8,300 critically ill patients and those living in distant locations who cannot be reached by regular ambulances. Large university hospitals conduct EMS helicopter services in collaboration with the fire department. So far, the government has imported its entire fleet, but it want to purchase Surion helicopters manufactured by Korea Aerospace Industries in the future.
Gil Medical Center, Mokpo Hankook Hospital, Wonju Severance Christian Hospital, Andong Medical Group Hospital, Dankook University Hospital, Wonkwang University Hospital, and Ajou University Hospital are among the hospitals in South Korea that provide helicopter service. The Ministry of Health and Welfare covers 70% of the cost of the aircraft, with municipal governments covering the remaining 30%. Only the medical teams must be provided by the hospitals. Each team has 18 members, including specialists, nurses, and paramedics. The helicopter service is managed by a team of ten employees, which includes the pilot, mechanics, and air traffic controllers.
The South Korea air ambulance services market is segmented based on type, application, and country.
The market is further segmented by type into Rotary wing and fixed wing.
The rotary wing contributes a major market share and is expected to grow at a CAGR of 12.7% during the forecast period.
Helicopters with rotary wings make up most of these aircraft; they are usually utilized for short, urgent distances in medical transport. Helicopters are often used in emergency response services throughout the world. When a ground ambulance has trouble getting to the patient, their ability to land practically any place comes in helpful. Due to their constrained fuel capacity, rotary-winged aircraft have a disadvantage when traveling great distances.
Jet engines or propellers propel fixed-wing aircraft and have fixed wings. Long-distance travel is where they are most frequently utilized because they need frequent recharge. Fixed-wing aircraft are frequently used in medical tourism to transfer ill patients to the best healthcare facilities.
The market is further segmented into Hospital-based community based by application.
Community-based holds a major market share and is expected to register a CAGR of 12.2% over the forecast period.
Community-based operations are expected to account for a major portion of the air ambulance industry since they better understand demand in their immediate surroundings. Most businesses in this category are community-based or charitable groups that raise revenue through local fundraisers. Members contributing to the fundraising receive substantial perks while using air medical transport services.
Hospital-based services are air ambulances healthcare organizations use to transport patients, attend to emergency outside patients, and carry out organ donation missions, among other things. They can be government-funded or private-hospital-funded treatments, with transportation fees compensated in addition to the patient's treatment expenditures. Hospital-based services have grown in popularity over the last decade. Still, they have lately discovered that it is far more cost-effective to contract a private air ambulance operator rather than invest in owning and maintaining aircraft.