Intermountain acquires air transport company to expand telehealth capabilities

Classic Air Medical will help the Salt Lake City health system extend its ability to serve and coordinate care for rural communities throughout eight Western states.
By Mike Miliard
04:18 PM

(Photo courtesy of Intermountain Healthcare)

Intermountain Healthcare announced this week that it would extend the reach of its virtual care program with the acquisition of Classic Air Medical, an air medical transport firm with more than two dozen helicopters and planes.

The company, also based in Salt Lake City, operates 28 aircraft – 16 rotary-wing and 12 fixed-wing – according to Intermountain, which notes that its flight coverage area is "much of the same footprint" as its own telehealth service network.

Classic Air Medical has 22 bases across eight states – Utah, Idaho, Nevada, Wyoming, Colorado, Arizona, New Mexico and Alaska – ran about 5,000 airlift flights in 2020.

The acquisition, subject to regulatory review, is expected to close this summer. Financial terms were not disclosed. Intermountain will operate Classic as an independent group, separate from its existing Intermountain Life Flight air medical program.

Some 400 Classic employees – pilots, flight nurses and paramedics – will join Intermountain and continue to focus on communities it serves and the requesting agencies with which it partners, officials said.

The addition bolsters Intermountain's care delivery service in rural communities in the region – helping it expand support for physicians, clinics and hospitals with telehealth coordination.

After initial telehealth consults if providers determine that patients might need higher acuity or more specialized care, Classic's fleet of aircraft will make it easier to transport patients to appropriate medical facilities.

Intermountain's resources will in turn help Classic expand its operations to serve more people in more communities, via telehealth and in person.

Intermountain has been making news recently. Just this week, it announced a new collaboration with University of Utah designed to find new approaches to preemptive care, encouraging providers to prioritize social determinants of health and enabling outreach to patients beyond scheduled visits.

Earlier this month, we checked in with the chief analytics officer of Intermountain's value-based care spinoff Castell, who offered an update on how the company is helping providers, payers, ACOs and others make better use of their data.

"This will benefit our organizations and the communities we each serve. The services provided by Classic augment our ability to care for people in an affordable and convenient way," said Rob Allen, senior vice president and chief operating officer of Intermountain, in a statement.

"With a relentless focus on improving value-based care, especially in rural areas, Intermountain and Classic will help make air medical transportation more accessible."

"We’re excited to join with Intermountain to continue to serve patients and communities in our service areas, and ensure they have access to high-value, coordinated care as close to home as possible," added Tony Henderson, CEO of Classic Air Medical. "Joining with Intermountain allows us to further enhance our capabilities by adding telehealth access and digital solutions developed by Intermountain to better serve patients."

Twitter: @MikeMiliardHITN
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