Utah’s new air ambulance companies raise the prices, and maybe danger, for patients

From the Tribune:

In the past year, four new medical helicopters have been established at Utah bases, bringing the number of rotary-wing ambulances serving the state to 20. Many are operated by profit-driven companies, which charge more for transport services than established players.

Federal law bars states from regulating aircraft routing, rates or operations, and Utah patients — who have no choice about which air ambulance company they ride with — have been hit with transport bills that top $35,000, far exceeding what even the most generous insurance plan will cover.

To complicate matters, the state can’t require companies to share aircraft tracking data, which would allow emergency dispatchers to easily determine which provider can respond best to an emergency, and ensure patients get from accident scenes to hospitals quickly and safely.

 

Employers see savings, increased productivity by offering telemedicine services

From Crain’s:

Telemedicine encompasses a growing variety of services using two-way video, email, smartphones, wireless blood pressure, weight and diabetes and heart monitoring and other technology. Services include remote consultations, primary and specialty care patient visits, health assessment, diagnosis, intervention and supervision.

A recent Towers Watson study of employers with at least 1,000 employees concluded that companies could save up to $6 billion per year if their employees routinely engaged in remote consults for appropriate medical problems instead of visiting emergency rooms, urgent care centers or physicians’ offices.

According to projections from IHS Technology, U.S. telehealth spending per year will rise from just $240 million in 2014 to $2.2 billion in 2018. It is predicted that there will be 7 million telehealth encounters in two years.