HEMS – transforming the global healthcare industry

HEMS – transforming the global healthcare industry

Helicopters for Emergency Medical Services (HEMS) is an essential component of the global healthcare industry. Recognised as a one of three key market drivers in the rotorcraft industry over the next five years[i], it is joined by the growing demand for HEMS in developing countries, and the increased use of helicopters for commercial operations.

For more than seven decades, helicopters have been used for Emergency Medical Services (HEMS), with examples dating back to the 1950’s. The popularity of HEMS is set to continue as it is recognised as the most effective way of transporting critical patients from the ‘point of injury’ to healthcare facilities. It enables healthcare professionals to reduce transportation times, health care costs and perform a series of critical tasks simultaneously, acting faster and more efficiently, resulting in less time for the patient outside of a healthcare facility and most important, saving lives.

Parapublic operations, which includes HEMS as well as wider commercial operations and activities such as law enforcement and firefighting, currently hold the largest market share in the global civil helicopter industry with 65.56% in 2016, and a market value of £6.6m. It is projected to grow at the highest CAGR of 4.45% over the next five years to 2023.

With the advancement of onboard facilities, it is no surprise that this sector is expected to see such significant growth. A quick look at developments within the sector over the past six months reveal the innovation aiding this expansion. In January 2018, a new mobile app which allows hospitals and first respondents to request air medical transport from a mobile device was launched by Link Life III. In February, Leonardo delivered its second AW169 to the Kent, Surrey & Sussex Air Ambulance Trust (KSSAAT) for HEMS Operations in the UK, while Airbus Helicopters delivered its 200th H145 to Norsk Luftambulanse (NOLAS) in May. The air rescue operator is set to use the helicopter in Norway exclusively for HEMS.

While the HEMS sector is already showing signs of healthy growth in Europe, the international opportunities are also helping to drive market share. HEMS are gaining popularity in the Asia-Pacific region with Airbus recognising China and India as key areas for future growth. Here, strides are being made to establish longevity and stability within the industry with Beijing 999 Emergency Rescue Centre taking delivery of its first HEMS-dedicated helicopter in 2014, while Aviators Air Rescue, funded by Air Medical Group Holding (AMGH) introduced dedicated services in India just last year, using three H130 helicopters.

Improved regulations and guidance for HEMS is helping to regulate and facilitate this fast-growing industry. As we see more successful integration of these services, we will no doubt see the industry’s further expansion and use of timely medical services that enhance the industry’s lifesaving efforts.

Are you operating within the HEMS sector? What are the key challenges facing the industry, and are there any uncovered opportunities key to the industry’s development?

[i] Global Civil Helicopter Market Research Report: Forecast to 2023

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