DocGo electric ambulance transports its first-ever patient at Jefferson Health hospital

The first patient was transported in DocGo's all-electric ambulance last week, through a partnership between the medical transport company and Jefferson Health.

The electric ambulance was originally unveiled in March 2022 and is part of DocGo's Zero Emission initiative to transition to an all-electric fleet by 2032. DocGo does not manufacture or convert the vehicles to electric itself, but equips them with clinical components and gets them state-certified. According to the company, it is one-tenth as polluting as a standard gasoline ambulance. The new vehicle will immediately begin transporting patients regularly.

The patient was taken from Jefferson Abington Hospital in Penn. to a nursing home, and the less than 10-mile ride went smoothly, DocGo president Anthony Capone told Fierce Healthcare. As part of the partnership, DocGo covered the cost of the vehicle while Jefferson Abington sponsored a charging station on-site. Charging stations can run between $1,000 and $6,000, depending on their speed capabilities, according to Capone.

DocGo chose Jefferson because “it has a very innovative mindset,” Capone told Fierce Healthcare. The two have worked on several initiatives since 2019, ranging from medical transportation across 11 hospitals to COVID-19 testing at Philadelphia International Airport to mobile health services

“As a large healthcare organization, we recognize that we have a responsibility to develop and implement sustainable practices, all while remaining committed to our primary mission: to improve lives,” Judd E. Hollander, M.D., senior vice president of healthcare delivery innovation at Thomas Jefferson University, said in a press release. He added that working with DocGo helps "pave the way for improved sustainability.” 

DocGo, formerly called Ambulnz, went public in November 2021 through a SPAC merger. Founded in 2015, DocGo offers what it calls "last-mile" healthcare services to patients in their homes or at work, such as testing, vaccinations, bloodwork, IV hydration, wound care, mobile imaging and EKGs, among other services. DocGo has a national footprint across its joint ventures, which includes partnerships with Fresenius, the nation’s leading dialysis service provider, Jefferson Health and UCHealth. 

The company operates in 28 states, with plans to expand its mobile health business to 35 states in 2022, executives said last year. The company's 2021 revenue jumped 239% to $319 million from $94 million in 2020, with its medical transport business growing 33% to bring in $84 million in revenue, according to its full-year financial report.

DocGo is already in discussions with other hospitals about similar partnerships, Capone said, with the goal of supplying at least one electric ambulance to each organization. Eventually, the company hopes to replace all combustion ambulances at partner hospitals. Eight additional states are on order for the electric ambulances for this year, according to Capone. New York may be rolled out next. 

Before starting its electric fleet, DocGo had decided to use ambulances powered by unleaded gas as opposed to diesel, which is worse for the environment. “We don’t think that is ecologically responsible,” Capone said. Ambulances have a much larger impact on the environment than a regular car, Capone noted, because they often have to run around the clock.

COVID-related supply chain shortages have affected Ford, the maker of DocGo’s ambulances (before they're converted). As a result, the launch of the fleet was delayed by about a year, Capone said. At this time, paying a third party for the vehicle conversion is steep. But Capone expects competition to drive down prices over time.

“You’re seeing more and more players getting into the electric ambulance conversion space,” he said.