You're Responsible for Procuring Air Ambulance; Now What?
Finding a reliable, high-quality air ambulance operator can be a daunting task. Where do you find one? Even if you have a vendor in place, how do you verify their quality standards? What is their safety record? What about the compliance requirements of your facility? Don't go Googling the next time you need an air ambulance. This blog will walk you through the seven steps to make better air ambulance procurement decisions.
#1) Two is Better Than One; Two Engines and Two Pilots
Don't worry - this won't be a lesson in turbofan engine performance. Know this; Two engine aircraft provide a level of safety via redundancy that a single engine aircraft cannot. The pilots of twin-engine aircraft typically have more experience and advanced training as well.
Just as critical, your air ambulance broker or operator should ensure that the aircraft being utilized has two pilots. Aviation safety is built on back-up systems. You always see two pilots up front on commercial aircraft - because it has proven to be much safer than relying on a single person's capability and judgments. Think how much better you drive when your spouse is in the car helping you.
Make sure that your provider NEVER puts your patients on a volunteer-operated aircraft, especially piston aircraft. They are significantly less reliable and in most cases much older and prone to malfunction. While volunteers that offer transport in their piston aircraft are well-meaning, they don't come anywhere near having the professional commercial standards that every patient deserves. Using uninsured volunteers can also create liability for your organization.
#2) Bed to Bed
Your air ambulance broker or operator should arrange bedside to bedside patient transfers. This ensures that the patient always receives the highest level of care. Confirming up-front that the patient will receive seamless transportation will prevent any transportation delays that could jeopardize the safety and health of the patient. More importantly, you don't want to find out in the middle of the medical air charter that nobody arranged ground ambulance transport to the destination facility.
#3) Why Can't I Reach Anyone??
Your air ambulance broker or operator should respond to your request for air charter 24/7/365. While that is easy for a provider to slap 24/7/365 availability on their website, you'll want to make sure that this is truly the case. Prior to doing business with them, try contacting them off-hours. Check references and ask those references if the air ambulance charter provider is accessible all day every day, especially during flight operations. The stakes are too high to assume this only to find out it is not the case during a patient air ambulance air charter flight.
#4) OB10 Billing
Your air ambulance broker or operator should be registered to bill through the OB10 system. This will result in less paperwork and simpler processing for VA facilities. If your facility is not on the OB10 platform, make sure that your vendor is properly set up to access and bill through the systems that your facility requires.
#5) Keeping You in the Loop
Family members, the receiving facility, and your medical colleagues are just a few of the interested parties that will want to be kept apprised of transportation progress. If you have to keep calling for information, or tracking down the patient's status and location yourself, then you need a new air ambulance company. Your air ambulance broker or operator should be proactive, quickly and efficiently communicating patient movement status at every phase of the operation. This includes alerting your team when the patient is picked up, when the aircraft has departed, and when the patient arrives bedside to the destination.
#6) Federal Contractor Certification
If your air ambulance provider is certified as a federal contractor, either through GSA or another federal entity, this means that they meet the high standards of doing business with the federal government. For GSA contractors, the federal government has already determined that their pricing is fair and reasonable. Having your air ambulance air charters managed by a federal contractor ensures that your facility and most importantly the patient are benefiting from the high standards mandated by the US Government.
#7) Due Diligence Ahead of Time
The time to vet a provider is not when you need one. Some due diligence will pay off handsomely. Include the topics of this blog as part of your vendor selection process. Also, check references. Lastly, ask for copies of their agreements and have the terms and conditions reviewed internally. You want to avoid surprises or having to scramble to get guidance from your facility's legal or accounting staff in the middle of a patient transport.
Wrapping it up
Follow the seven air ambulance procurement guidelines in this blog, and you'll make better medical air charter purchase decisions. Don't be afraid to ask your vendor or any potential vendor questions. That is the only way to ensure you have a quality provider. Visit our website to learn more about our air ambulance air charter services.