Book Air Ambulance, one of India’s fast growing ‘bed–to–bed’ online air ambulance service providers and the flagship venture of Flaps Aviation, has launched the country’s first affordable air ambulance services, bringing it within the financial and geographical reach of common man. This low cost air ambulance service is seen by the industry analysts as a game changer for India’s sunrise air ambulance and emergency medical services (EMS) sector as it may transform the otherwise expensive air medical evacuation services model into an affordable.
Captain Amit Kumar, an experienced pilot and funder and CEO of Flaps Aviation, launched the ‘Cashless Air Ambulance’ services in Mumbai on Wednesday.
Until now, air medical transfers of the patients were considered to be a costly affair in India and it was availed only by a high income – group people leaving a huge class of masses out of the service ambit. The factors such as distance, flying time, the cost of hiring an aircraft, incidental bed – to – bed transfer charges and cost of deployment of medical crew members had made the service exorbitant to range anywhere between Rs 2.5 lakh to even Rs 18 Lakh per patient transfer depending on the distance covered.
“We are the first aviation company to design a programme like ‘Cashless Air Ambulance’ that will bring air ambulance services within the ambit of every Indian. This will be an exclusive online membership programme whereby individuals from any city or a town can access and avail this life – saving facility for himself or his family member in a distress situation,” said Captain Amit Kumar.
Availing this service cashless, a member can shift a critically – ill patient by air to any preferred super – specialty hospital in any city in the country swiftly under a strict supervision of a medical crew thereby enhancing the chances of the patient’s survival, he said adding that it will change the entire eco-system of air medical evacuation segment. As medical emergencies occur anytime, a member can thus factor his medical priorities in advance and link his medical insurance policy with the air ambulance benefits to further manage his claims, he said while the launch.
Explain the model, Book Air Ambulance team said that on the operations front, the ‘Cashless Air Ambulance’ membership programme will extend a much-needed safety cover to the family of six members at an economical price point of Rs 5,000. To make it truly a cashless affair, it will further provide one airlifting completely cashless (free – of –cost) to a member for specific critical medical emergencies anywhere in India. It will also grant a 50 per cent discount on air tariff or normal air ambulance charges on all other patient transfers. This programme will be renewable every year and a member can access super-specialty hospitals, pharmacy outlets, diagnostics, health products, etc. at attractive rates. Various complicated situations such as cardiac arrests, neurological issues, burns, multiple fractures, multiple organ failures, etc. could be handled under this programme with the help of the Company’s range of aircraft, experienced doctors, a paramedic crew, advanced medical equipment and experienced pilots reaching out to rescue of the patient at the need of the hour, the company sources said.
Book Air Ambulance currently operates across India bringing Tier II and III cities and towns on the national map for air ambulance service subscribers. It services are available in metros like Mumbai, New Delhi, Chennai, Hyderabad, Kolkata and other Tier II and III cities and it will now expand to few other towns where it finds a huge scope for patient – transfers due to the lack of sophisticated medical facilities required in emergencies.
“We have observed that there has been a growing number of critical patients of cardiac arrests, road accidents, neurological issues, etc. from Tier II and III towns who need immediate medical evacuation and access for advanced treatments. In the absence of the sophisticated hospitals and healthcare infrastructure, many patients from these parts of India lose their precious lives. Our Cashless Air Ambulance services will help people from such areas to access and afford air ambulance facilities to pre-empt life risks,” the company said.
Bringing the air ambulance services in the medical insurance bracket will also augment the growth of the sector and the Company.
“We are expecting a major breakthrough by joining hands with some insurance companies to cover the patient’s air ambulance transfers that will positively impact the company’s growth” said Captain Amit Kumar.
According to Book Air Ambulance, it has been carrying out all its medical evacuation flights on a fleet of King Air C90 aircrafts. It is eyeing a manifold growth in the number of users in the next three years once the ‘Cashless Air Ambulance’ programme is geared up and more number of aircrafts will be added to its fleet. The expansion will be funded through internal accruals and external funding. As the ‘Cashless Air Ambulance’ will drive the growth, the company is eyeing about 30 to 35% growth in the next three years in its business. In the last three years, the company has reported a growth of 25 per cent on a year-on-year basis.
The company believes that the COVID – 19 pandemic has changed the healthcare priorities of a common Indian and he is becoming more cautious to health issues. During the lock-down time, Book Air Ambulance has operated about 22 flights for medical evacuation that includes shifting of patients (non – COVID) to better hospital facilities and also shifting of coffins.
“This pandemic has brought healthcare on every Indian’s priority list. Every individual will try to secure his and family’s health safety and security, while assessing the healthcare infrastructure around him. With ‘Cashless Air Ambulance’ making air ambulance facilities affordable, we expect more people from Tier I, II and III cities and towns to sign up for our services. There will definitely be a spurt in the numbers,” added Captain Amit Kumar.