Bed-to-bed air ambulance services provider Book Air Ambulance on Wednesday launched a "cashless" facility amid suspension of commercial air passenger services, and said it is eyeing about 30-35 percent growth in the business in the next three years.
A venture of Flaps Aviation Private Ltd, the medical air services operator currently has a presence in metros such as Mumbai, New Delhi, Chennai, Hyderabad, Kolkata besides in Tier II and III cities and towns.
Air transfers of the patients are considered to be a costly affair availed only by a high-income group for 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, according to the company.
This makes the service exorbitant in terms of cost with charges ranging between Rs 2.5 lakh-Rs 18 lakh per patient transfer depending on the distance covered, it said.
"We are the first aviation company to design a programme like 'Cashless Air Ambulance' that will make these services affordable for anyone. This will be an exclusive online membership programme wherein 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.
"Availing this service cashless, a member can shift a critically ill patient by air to any preferred super speciality hospital in any city in the country swiftly under the strict supervision of a medical crew thereby enhancing the chances of the patient's survival. It will change the entire eco-system of air medical evacuation segment, said Amit Kumar, a pilot and founder and CEO, Flaps Aviation after launching his company's services in the city.
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, the company said adding it will further provide one airlifting completely free-of-cost to a member for specific critical medical emergencies anywhere within the country.
It will also grant a 50 per cent discount on air tariff or normal air ambulance charges on all other patient transfers. This programme can be renewed every year and a member can access super speciality hospitals, pharmacy outlets, diagnostics, health products, among others. at attractive rates, covering various complicated situations.
We have observed that there has been a growing number of critical patients of cardiac arrests, road accidents, neurological issues, among others from tier II and tier- III towns who need immediate medical evacuation and access for advanced treatments.
"In the absence of sophisticated hospitals and healthcare infrastructure, many patients from these parts of India lose their precious lives. Our services will help people from such areas to access and afford air ambulance facilities to pre-empt life risks, said Kumar
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 such affordable facilities, we expect more people from Tier I, II and III cities and towns to sign up for our services," he said.
Stating that during the lock-down, Book Air Ambulance has operated about 22 flights for medical evacuation that includes shifting of patients (non COVID-19) to better hospital facilities and also shifting of mortal remains, Kumar said, "there will definitely be spurt (in the number of people) going forward."
As the 'Cashless Air Ambulance' will drive the growth, the Company is eyeing about 30-35 per cent growth in the next three years in its business against a reported 25 per cent growth in the last three years, it said.
The company has been carrying out all its medical evacuation flights on a fleet of King Air C90 aircraft and is looking to log 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 aircraft are added to its fleet.
"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 Kumar.