The aging population and future demand for emergency ambulances in Japan
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- Hagihara, A., Hasegawa, M., Hinohara, Y. et al. Intern Emerg Med (2013) 8: 431. doi:10.1007/s11739-013-0956-4
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Demand for emergency ambulances has been increasing in developmentally advanced countries, and in Japan demand has been increasing due to the aging population since 2008, when the total population began to decrease. However, we do not know how acceleration of the aging population relates to the demand for emergency ambulances. Thus, we estimated future demand for emergency ambulances in Japan. A regression with autocorrelated errors model was used to estimate future demand for emergency ambulance dispatches and emergency transports. In the estimation, data on emergency ambulance dispatches, emergency transports, and population data from 1963 to 2011, and an estimate of the population of Japan from 2012 to 2025 were used. The number of emergency ambulance dispatches has increased since 2008, and it is expected to continue to increase until around 2023 or 2024, when it will reach a peak of ~6.2 million per year. Similarly, the number of emergency transports is expected to continue to increase until 2022 or 2023, when it will reach a peak of ~5.3 million per year. Although we need to be careful when evaluating numbers predicted for the remote future due to methodological limitations, the findings might be useful for updating emergency medical care systems to prepare for future increases in demand.