This week, DocGo will start transporting patients in New York City with the nation’s first all-electric ambulance.
The company, which provides last-mile mobile medical services, is introducing the zero-emissions ambulance designed in collaboration with manufacturer Leader Emergency Vehicles and Lightning eMotors.
The move is part of DocGo’s goal of transitioning to an all-electric fleet by 2032. The company has about a thousand vehicles across the country, and DocGo President Anthony Capone said it’s hoping to rapidly make the transition given the current economic environment.
“It’s quite apropos to the current condition, with what is going on in Europe—gas prices are skyrocketing, and they’re only going to increase. We’re already spending about half a million dollars a month on gasoline for our vehicles,” he told Fierce Healthcare.
Besides being a more sustainable choice—the all-electric vehicle introduces about one-tenth as much pollution as a standard gasoline ambulance—the ambulance has the potential to lower the cost of patient transportation as fuel and maintenance costs shrink.
“Every single one after this, the cost will be reduced, and eventually it will get to the point where it’s both morally correct and financially beneficial,” Capone said.
DocGo, formerly called Ambulnz, went public in November through a $1.1 billion merger with special purpose acquisition company Motion Acquisition Corp.
The company employs about 4,000 providers across the U.S. to facilitate healthcare delivery to patients at home or at work, offering services including testing, vaccinations, blood work, wound care and more.
Designing the ambulance brought about many challenges as the company faced ambulance safety standards, which in most states require ambulances to be able to travel at least 130 miles without refueling.
For electric cars like those produced by Tesla, Capone said, the mileage requirement isn’t much of a roadblock, but it’s a different story for bigger vehicles like ambulances.
“It initially was a little daunting to get there,” he said. “We’re talking about a large, not particularly aerodynamic ambulance that’s much heavier (than a Tesla), with a ton of equipment inside of it. But we were able to get over that threshold. New York City is a perfect area for it—it may only travel 100 miles in its whole shift.”
He said the company is likely to open-source the blueprints for the custom-made ambulance to support the broader transition to electric ambulances.
DocGo’s rollout of the ambulance will start in New York City, where an ambulance can likely operate for the full day on a single charge, before moving to Los Angeles, Philadelphia and New Jersey.
Markets that require traveling a greater distance to transport a single patient, like those in Tennessee and Texas, will come last.
DocGo also announced a partnership this week with West PACE to offer nonemergency home visits to older patients in San Diego.
The proposition helps reduce unnecessary visits to the emergency room, Capone said. The company also has telehealth capabilities to discuss with a clinician if the patient does need emergent care, in which case they have the vehicles to transport that patient to the hospital.