InterviewIssueMay 22

How fuel price hike affects ambulance market

Despite a hike in fuel prices, Medulance with its fleet of 7500 ambulances is continuing to provide services across all geographies. Pranav Bajaj, Co-Founder, Medulance talks about how the fuel price hike may affect the business in the long run and wishes that the price comes down soon in interaction with M Neelam Kachhap

Are you working on the same price, or are the charges directly proportional to the hike in fuel
The ambulance and life care services are also dealing with the dramatic increase in fuel prices and Medulance
is no exception. Though we have not increased the rates in response to higher fuel prices yet, there may come a time when we need to make certain changes. Some small vendors and local ambulances have already announced a hike in their prices. If the same trend continues and the fuel price hike gets more than 20 per cent, we may also need to increase the prices proportionately. The fuel price rise indeed affects the logistics and cab services which further increases the burden on the customers. An ambulance is always on the move, and a fortunate thing is people understand how the hike in fuel rates directly impacts 24×7 medical transport facilities. Backed by a fleet of over 7500 ambulances, Medulance guarantees a 24×7 medical transport support facility.

We are expecting the fuel prices to decrease so that we can put more effort into efficiently providing our services in all geographies.

Do emergency service providers see this as a hurdle? Will this impact the business?
The increase in fuel prices has affected almost all sectors, but it has adversely impacted the transport services. We work on low margins to be an affordable choice for the users. However, frequent hikes in fuel prices will impact both small and large-scale businesses and their services. At Medulance, we channel all our efforts to improve the quality of care and services. Inclusion is a part of our strategy, and we are committed to continually including the small businesses with us. We focus on expanding the reach of our emergency care network in the best possible manner to the patients. India is yet to explore the utilisation of electric vehicles in the field of medical emergency response services. More support by the government in terms of initiatives and regulations to promote the use of electric vehicles can bring a wave of revolution that would further help make the emergency  response in the industry affordable.

Do asset-heavy companies make a profit out of it?
Fuel forms a huge chunk of the overall budget of transport provider companies and can affect the quality of services. Quality is of the utmost importance in the healthcare industry, it is difficult to cut costs in the main operations. Of course, the healthcare industry cannot cut back on clinical services, but strategising other areas such as increasing the everyday utilisation may help the profitability of the business.

Have you witnessed even a minute impact of it on the business yet? How do look up to this in the future, and if the issue remains, how the company plans to offer a solution to this problem?

Of course, the dramatic increase in fuel rise has affected the long routes and the intercity transport. It will affect the consumers’ pockets in the long run, and unfortunately, they will be forced to bear this. A country like India that is trying hard to improve the entire healthcare industry and strategising to take effective initiatives regarding
occupational safety and health issues may find it challenging to cope with.

If the fuel prices remain higher and keep increasing, bigger companies may compromise on the margins to sustain the business. The quality of care in the medical field cannot be compromised. Insurance integration may be a solution if we consider the price rise and business sustainability. The insurance can cover the ambulance cost, and the price rise increase will not directly affect the customer.

After accessing the infrastructure in the industry around electric vehicles in the future, Medulance will also look at
electric vehicles as a solution to increase the affordability of the services.

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