911’s Biggest Fears Taken on by Wharton Startup

If I asked what the first word you learned to call as a child was, you would most likely say, “911.” That’s because from a very young age we’re taught that if something really hurts to call 911 and go to the emergency room (ER). This lesson is one that we haven’t forgotten. Each year, more than 96 million non-emergency medical calls are made to 911; driving $288 billion dollars in excess costs and a substantial strain on emergency resources.

MD Ally is the non-emergency 911 navigation solution on a mission to enhance emergency care delivery by ensuring the appropriate use of emergency resources.

The overutilization of emergency medical services and ERs by non-emergency patients has a detrimental impact on patients seeking care for true emergencies. Pictured below (left) is a woman that called 911 for heart attack symptoms during a “code zero” event, which means zero ambulances were available for dispatching.  She passed away while waiting over 30 minutes (three times the target response time) for an ambulance to arrive at her home. Pictured on the right, is a young girl who went to the emergency room on a day that it was overcrowded with an ear-piercing infection. After having to wait more than five hours to be seen, the infection spread throughout her body, sending her into toxic shock. To save her life, surgeons ultimately had to amputate her left hand, a few of her right fingers, and both of her legs below the knee.

Unfortunately, this is not an entirely rare event. According to the American Health Association, 90% of all large hospitals are operating at or above capacity at all times.1 Additional research shows that being admitted to the hospital, when the ER is overcrowded, can drive an 8.9% increase in the patient’s risk of death.2

MD Ally works to eliminate non-emergency callers negative impact on emergency care delivery and costs. Our non-emergency 911 navigation solution integrates telemedicine, on-demand transportation services, and virtual appointment scheduling into the 911 call flow to both improve healthcare access and drive a 94% reduction in excess costs associated with non-emergency ambulance and ER use.

Emergency medical services is a part of healthcare that touches all of us; particularly when we’re at our most vulnerable. As the child of a volunteer EMT, I’ve heard many heroic, first-responder rescue stories. However, as an adult working in healthcare tech, I’ve also heard horror stories about technological limitations that prevented delivering the best and most timely care. MD Ally is passionate about creating forward-thinking 911 technology that is on par with advancements in modern technology, improves first responder’s ability to save lives, and significantly reduces costs for patients, payers, and municipalities.

Click here to learn more about MD Ally.


  1. Robert M Cowan and Stephen Trzeciak (2005) Clinical review: “Emergency department overcrowding and the potential impact on the critically ill.”
  2. Benjamin C. Sun, MD, MPP, Renee Y. Hsia, MD, Robert E. Weiss, PhD, David Zingmond, MD, Li-Jung Liang, PhD, Weijuan Han, MS, Heather McCreath, PhD, and Steven M. Asch, MD. (2013) “Effect of Emergency Department Crowding on Outcomes of Admitted Patients”