What is Healthcare Patient Travel Logistics?

In the “South” we take for granted our routine medical health care, such as a dentist, ophthalmology appointment, or even getting an X Ray or a knee operation.  Even calling 911 appears as something obvious in the case of an emergency. Many of the above services are not so easy in remote locations from Northern Alaska to the Arctic or even Nunavut to Labrador. For many Northerners, it is more challenging, as many of these medical and emergency facilities may not exist or may be minimal in small communities. So State, Federal, and First Nations Governments step in to provide that added medical care. Police and fire services are often a local service too. This support includes but is not limited to an Aviation Medivac or Air Charter service to destination accommodations and even local transport to a clinic or hospital.

The important role of the First Nations Health Authority of British Columbia …

The First Nations Health Authority of British Columbia is the health and wellness partner to over 200 diverse First Nations communities and citizens.  In 2013, the FNHA began a new era in BC First Nations health governance and health care delivery by taking responsibility for the programs and services formerly delivered by Health Canada. That was a huge step forward in self government.  Since then, the FNHA has been working to address service gaps through new partnerships, closer collaboration, health systems innovation, reform and redesign of health programs and services for individuals, families, communities, and Nations across BC.​

…along with the Non-Insured Health Benefits Policy

Furthermore, in Canada, the Non-Insured Health Benefits Medical Transportation Policy Framework defines the policies and benefits under which the NIHB program will fund eligible registered First Nations and recognized Inuit clients with access to medically required health services that are not provided on the reserve or in the community of residence.

How is this all coordinated and arranged?

Air Transportation is a key element in healthcare.  As an example of private support there is an operator called Hope Air that provides free flights for patients in financial need that require medical care far from home. Since 1986, they’ve provided more than 140,000 travel arrangements for patients of all ages and all medical needs. In Alaska, Airlift Northwest [an air ambulance service] primarily transports patients from rural areas or clinics to hospitals in Juneau, Ketchikan, and Sitka. The clinics provide initial stabilization and then transfers patients to the larger Alaska hospitals for additional specialty care. In Ontario, a Helicopter and Fixed Wing operation called ORNGE is operating for Ontario’s healthcare system, and in Manitoba it is LifeFlight. There are many more like this across North America.

Under one umbrella that supports patients and the multiple logistics suppliers, there is a technology solution. These systems address all patient data, travel, and a host of workflows from government policies to approval automation and communications. These Patient Healthcare Logistics Programs have many positive features for one to provide a more efficient, effective, and respectful transportation experience out of the north for both patient and escort. Financially, there are cost savings in managing the supply chain and obtaining transparent data reporting for local and federal governments. It is again an additional example of self government.  

Nomadis, Health Travel Solution 

An out-of-the box solution that started in 2002 is Nomadis. It is fully integrated with health care administration and clinical systems. The IT Solution is a SaaS service used in Canada and Australia for healthcare purposes.  It combines patient (and escort or nurse) travel management from home to the clinic/hospital.

As noted, Indigenous peoples do not have equitable access to health services compared to the general Canadian population due to geography, health system deficiencies, and inadequate health human resources. It is with a higher duty of care, increased support, and awareness plus technology that all peoples can have better health care wherever they work and live.