The fire chief of Memphis has suspended its Rapid Assessment Decision and Redirection program over the reported error, which made the local government inadvertently pay an amount of $50,000 to a local healthcare provider.
“Innovative initiatives such as RADAR are important for providing the right response to the citizens of Memphis. However, it is critical that they are conducted appropriately. We made a mistake, we learned from it and we are moving forward,” said Fire Services Chief Gina Sweat in a report.
The RADAR program aims to lessen incidents where ambulances respond to non-emergency 911 calls. In 2016, Kevin Spratlin of the Memphis Fire Department said 25,000 out of the 135,000 calls were non-emergency. As a result, there were at least 2,000 incidents where no ambulance was available to respond to an emergency situation.
“In the past, our model has always been; it doesn’t matter what the call is—we’re going to send an ambulance and we’re going to give you a ride to a hospital,” said Andrew Hart, division chief for Emergency Medical Services at the Memphis Fire Department, during the launch of the RADAR.
The pilot program was a great success, a report of Spratlin read, as they were able to redirect approximately 60 percent of patients to primary care doctors.
“Furthermore, by ensuring that data collection played a key role in the pilot, the group has successfully convinced insurers to partner with the program. They have created a new payment model for non-emergent patients, ensuring the long-term sustainability of the program,” the report added.
However, the services of the physician were supposed to be provided for free during the pilot period. Instead, a report stated that an amount of $100,000 was approved, where half was already given to the health service provider.
Reports said that the city government is already working on getting the money back.
The public was further assured that this inadvertent mistake, as pointed out by the city auditors, is not criminal.
Meanwhile, Memphis Mayor Jim Strickland said part of “being brilliant at a basic” is “admitting our mistakes, fixing what happened, and implementing new policies to make sure it never happens again.”
He has also expressed support to the Memphis Fire Department to swiftly resolve the issue at hand.