Learn all about the differences between Emergency Medical Services and Non-Emergency Medical Transportation in this comprehensive guide.
06/30/22
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When people require transport to a medical facility, they have several options to choose from. However, some people don’t know the differences between the two main ones: emergency medical services (EMS) and non-emergency medical transportation (NEMT) services. 

How are these options different when they both offer transport for people who need medical services? 

Read on for a thorough breakdown of each service, who they cater to, and the difference between the services they provide for patients.

Emergency Medical Services (EMS)

EMS provides emergency medical care—it is activated during incidents where people need treatment and first aid. EMS often requires quick and immediate transport to a hospital, with the sirens blaring to tell other automobiles to give way to the emergency vehicle. 

EMS is tasked with responding to emergency situations, but it is more than just a mode of transport. 

Emergency response 

EMS is a coordinated response system designed to respond to medical emergencies. It involves many agencies, individuals, and organizations. Each component has a role in making EMS a seamless and capable response to any crisis. 

These components include: 

  • Private and public medical facilities, agencies, and organizations
  • Transportation networks
  • Communication networks
  • Highly-trained professionals and volunteers

EMS providers work within the community, and it is part of their duty and responsibility to identify, inform, and respond to medical and health issues within that community. 

The different EMS components work together with public safety and service agencies to ensure that emergency medical services are dispatched efficiently on a local or even national level.

Organizational structure of EMS

EMS organizational structures vary depending on the country, state, or city. They generally include fire departments, government agencies, hospitals, clinics, volunteer groups, non-profit organizations, and the local police. 

These groups have strict protocols covering who will respond to certain emergencies, when they should call for backup, and more. 

Non-Emergency Medical Transportation (NEMT)

This type of transport is still crucial because patients still require treatment or special medical equipment during transport.

Non-emergency medical transportation (NEMT) is used for all kinds of medical transportation, mainly for situations that are not life-threatening. This type of transport is still crucial because patients still require treatment or special medical equipment during transport. 

NEMTs are often used for the following situations:

Long-distance medical treatment

Patients who need medical treatments or procedures in another state or country hire NEMT services to ensure safe transport. This is because they may need special equipment when traveling to another facility or may not be allowed or able to fly traditionally. 

Medical appointments 

NEMT services also center on patients who need transportation services to rehabilitation facilities, hospitals, and clinics. They call on NEMT providers because they may require wheelchairs, stretchers, oxygen tanks, or other supportive medical equipment during the journey. But the most common reason for requesting NEMT services is more simple than you might think, it’s because people don’t have another way to get to the appointment.  

Leisure travel

Calling an NEMT provider for such trips is the best way to ensure their loved ones will have everything they need to enjoy the journey.

Families and individuals who may not have the vehicles needed to transport a loved one who uses any medical equipment also often hire NEMT services for leisure trips. It could be to visit a family member or go on a relaxing holiday.

Calling an NEMT provider for such trips is the best way to ensure their loved ones will have everything they need to enjoy the journey.

The organizational structure of NEMT providers

NEMT providers are often private businesses that offer their services to clients who may have medical needs, mobility issues, or require medical equipment during transport. Their drivers and support staff are trained or experienced in providing medical care, and their vehicles are equipped with tools and equipment that meet the standards for medical transport vehicles. 

NEMT providers also use special apps and software like RouteGenie to improve their services and operations. Since NEMTs are essentially standalone businesses and do not have the internal communication infrastructure that EMS systems have, they need operation apps like RouteGenie to help them schedule, dispatch, and plan the routes for their clients and patients. 

EMS and NEMT: similar but different 

EMS and NEMT providers fulfill similar services because they are used for medical services, but their specific case uses are vastly different.

EMS systems are embedded in a country or city’s public safety services. They involve the collaboration of different groups and government organizations to respond to medical emergencies. In contrast, NEMT providers are often hired by private individuals who seek transport for their medical needs. 

If you are in the NEMT industry and need software for your company, contact our NEMT experts to learn how RouteGenie NEMT software can help you streamline your business.

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