By SuZanne Troske, CEDIK Research Associate
At CEDIK, we have three studies of ambulance services in the U.S.:
- Ambulance Ownership Type and Quality of Service: http://isfe.uky.edu/research/2019/ambulance-service-ownership-and-management-how-it-affects-quality-service-delivery
- Ambulance Usage by Medicare Beneficiaries: https://ruhrc.uky.edu/publications/do-hospital-closures-affect-patient-time-in-an-ambulance/
- EMS Response Times and Hospital Closures: https://ruhrc.uky.edu/publications/medicare-ambulance-services/
Our goals in researching ambulance services are:
- To understand quality and costs of ambulance services and how to deliver effective emergency services for the lowest cost,
- To discover the characteristics of patients who use ambulance services and how usage varies across the U.S. and between rural and urban areas,
- To understand emergency healthcare – especially in rural areas – more specifically, how emergency services change if a hospital closes in a community.
After learning more about ambulance service operations across the U.S., we now wanted to see how Kentucky compared to the national average in ambulance service characteristics. For ownership types Kentucky has, on a percentage basis, fewer ambulance services managed through fire departments and more through community non-profit organizations (Figure 1). From conversations with EMS managers, there is no “typical” mix of ownership types in the states. Each state is unique.
We summarized data from the Kentucky Board of EMS which reports the average call times of all ambulance calls for the state. Unfortunately, the latest data are from 2017 which do not include calls from Louisville. Louisville started reporting in 2018. The times in Kentucky are very similar in the time it takes to arrive at a scene (time to scene) and time at the scene (scene time) as the national average (Figure 2). The time traveling from the scene to the hospital emergency room is longer in Kentucky. One reason may be because Louisville data are missing which would presumably have shorter transport times as it is more urban.
The last comparison we want to make is about how much Medicare beneficiaries are using ambulance services. Based on Medicare claims, on average more Medicare beneficiaries are transported to a hospital in a year (15.9%) in Kentucky than the average state (12.2%). Those beneficiaries who use the ambulance service travel more miles per trip (15.5 miles) than average (12.5 miles) and use the service more often (2.0 days per year) than the average (1.8 days per year).