Medavie EMS

A global model for excellent service delivery

When it comes to healthcare, every region does similar things to reach the same goal (save lives, that is), though some may differ in their approach. This has also been the case for ambulance service providers in each province across Canada. Many of them, for instance, do not own their own fleets. In certain regions, there are multiple ambulance service providers at a base hospital so there is potential to increase efficiency—particularly when it comes to the clinical level of service. And who wouldn’t want a standardized approach to your or a loved one’s health emergency?

Paramedics today are adding value to a struggling healthcare model by taking on a great deal of care for patients even after they leave the hospital. In Atlantic Canada in particular, there is a shift towards performance-based models, measuring service delivery and standards, much like the Nova Scotia-based Medavie EMS. While there are still many differences between level of vehicles to equipment and operational models in each province, there is one all-in-one ambulance service provider that is, well, providing it all—and more.

From the time a critical call is received at its dispatch centre to the emergency response vehicle arriving at the scene, Medavie EMS is present all the way—and is even branching out to explore pre- and post-hospital care services under its corporate umbrella of Medavie EMS Inc., a wholly-owned subsidiary of Medavie Inc. Operating subsidiaries of Medavie EMS include: EMC Emergency Medical Care Inc. (EMC) in Nova Scotia; New Brunswick Emergency Medical Services Inc. (NB EMS) in New Brunswick; Island EMS Inc. (IEMS) in Prince Edward Island; Medavie EMS Ontario Limited (MEMSO); as well as a training facility called Atlantic Paramedic Academy (APA), a Medavie EMS company located in Moncton, New Brunswick.

Community-oriented approach provides above-and-beyond service

What makes this ambulance service provider so unique is not just its partnership with Blue Cross in Ontario, Quebec and the Atlantic provinces, but its diversification of services. This is exactly what was considered when the company was created, as George McLellan, CEO, points out: “we keep in mind how separately each province operates in order to provide oversight, strategic direction and operational efficiencies, such as procurement for the individual companies that serve each province.”

McLellan ensures his vision is communicated and his leadership is consistent with the company’s mission, vision, and core values—that is, the delivery of innovative health care, safety and communications solutions through knowledgeable, caring professionals. Ultimately, that means promoting a better life for the communities that Medavie EMS serves. “Because each province has its own destiny and expectations, we have someone who oversees operations in Nova Scotia, New Brunswick, PEI and Ontario,” tells McLellan.

Headquartered in Dartmouth, Nova Scotia, Medavie EMS provides a broad range of services aside from emergency management, such as high-level procurement, training, payroll, HR policies and clinical evaluations of how paramedic teams handle cardiac arrests, for example.

“We have a score card in which all companies are evaluated on the basis of the patients’ safety, clinical value and operational efficiency including, financial information,” explains McLellan, who meets with each ambulance service company to review and discuss their score card.  Also, unlike other provinces, Medavie Inc. also dispatches calls and owns a property in P.E.I. “We’ve been short-listed to do their 9-1-1 calls for the entire province, which would be the first time anyone provides that service—we’re still waiting on that decision.”

Unique structure benefits Blue Cross Foundation

Established in Nova Scotia in mid-1990s as a for-profit organization, Medavie EMS has an atypical structure—it is owned in part by Blue Cross, a worldwide organization with a very progressive focus in Atlantic Canada, yet its revenues earned go up to the Blue Cross through its foundation and is distributed to the communities it serves. Due to the fact that the company services’ are measured on a performance-based system, they raise the bar high to meet—and exceed—their own standards by using databases based algorisms to track activity, or spot patterns of incidents in certain areas.

Generally speaking, there have been many changes in the medical industry, especially in recent years. Shifting from the traditional role that paramedics used to play, Medavie EMS says it is carving out a new model that is quite effective and picking up in Atlantic Canada. “Here in Nova Scotia, our paramedics are actually going to the homes in remote areas, under medical direction, to change dressings, clean wounds and tend to other minor trauma,” says McLellan of the company’s identified area of growth in regional service and pre- or post-hospital care.

“Our system represents are a great opportunity and, I think, to level the playing field once again, as our paramedics receive more training and are responsible for more things that are primary care in nature,” he says, adding that many people in the service region must travel to great distance to even see a doctor or go to a hospital.

Accreditation raises the bar

When it comes to providing excellent service, there is no doubt that this company demonstrates the many opportunities for improvement in the current healthcare model—and many “firsts” in Canada. In addition to its dispatch services, Medavie EMS is also an accredited entity as it also prepares for audits and evaluations of service delivery and standards. “We have been part of four successful EMS accreditations and re-accreditation by the National Academies of Emergency Dispatchers (NAED), as well as the Commission on Accreditation of Ambulance Services (CAAS),” according to a company statement.

Without hesitation, Medavie EMS (IEMS) volunteered to participate in one of the pilot surveys for Accreditation Canada during their process of validating the new EMS accreditation standards. Such level of standardization and accreditation has been recognized by the Canadian Medical Association. “Our goal is to become a broader resource for the healthcare systems [in each province] that we serve in terms of being able to address problems in the healthcare industry, in the communities and provinces where we are located,” says McLellan.

Further expansion of accredited services is already underway. The momentum got started when Medavie’s subsidiary, EMC, announced its air ambulance service, LifeFlight, was in the process of applying for it Commission on Air Medical Transport Services (CAMTS) Accreditation.  In November 2007, EMC was awarded the 2007 Ethics Award for businesses.  

 Because of their efficient processes and high standards, there is no doubt that the pivotal partnership between provincial governments and Medavie Inc. will continue to flourish and provide strategic planning and direction, technology support and financial accountability to all current (and potentially new) Medavie Blue Cross EMS operations in the future.