The Power of Telemedicine at Sea
Without telemedicine as part of a maritime company’s healthcare options, medical care at sea is limited. Onboard teams are often minimally equipped to handle much beyond routine care, such as treating symptoms and dressing injuries. In life-threatening situations, the vessel must find the closest port and transfer the patient to a hospital, or – in rare cases – call for emergency evacuation and repatriation.
However, thanks to modern global communications, VIKAND now offers telemedicine as part of our “Total Healthcare Solution.” Today’s affordable and accessible satellite connections support stable video and voice chat, even in low-bandwidth locations. Now, everyone onboard can access a broad range of preventive, chronic and even urgent care directly through their mobile device.
While face-to-face consultations remain the gold standard, several recent studies conclude that video chat shows great promise as a supporting or alternative evaluation method, in terms of both clinical efficacy and patient satisfaction.
Telemedicine is a vital option for clients across commercial maritime sectors, including shipping, energy and industrial fishing, as well as yachting, where it can be used in tandem with onboard medical care to support a better guest experience.
The Benefits of Telemedicine at Sea
According to Ship Technology, “Every year, medical emergencies force one in five ships to divert from their course, at an average cost of $180,000 per diversion. [Another] study found that at least 20% of the cases aren’t critical and could easily be avoided by using modern on-board telemedical assistance.”
Beyond factors onboard that can impact seafarer health, maritime businesses are vulnerable to geopolitical turmoil. At the height of COVID-19, thousands of maritime workers found themselves stranded at sea long after their contracts expired – some for a year or more. More recently, the Ukrainian conflict has left hundreds of ships marooned in the Black Sea, with dwindling supplies and increasingly dispirited workers.
As part of VIKAND’s Total Healthcare Solution, telemedicine can help avert costly diversions and support crew members affected by crises that are beyond their control.
How Can Telemedicine Help Vessel Operators?
VIKAND’s telemedicine platform can be implemented as both a standalone service and as part of a Total Healthcare Solution, working in tandem with onboard medical care. Commercial operators and yacht managers alike can benefit from this proactive, cost-effective solution, which is designed to promote good crew asset management and save money.
Telemedicine from VIKAND can help keep your crew safe and healthy, contributing to a more positive onboard culture, elevating productivity and helping you retain experienced seafarers. It can help minimise losses associated with absenteeism and presenteeism (working while ill); decrease illnesses, injuries and fatalities; and reduce vessel diversions and medical disembarkation.
Beyond saving money on healthcare and diversion costs, keeping teams in optimal health by reducing illnesses, accidents and inattentiveness has an overall positive impact on your business goals.
How Does Telemedicine at Sea Work?
While many telemedicine providers are limited to one-way communication, VIKAND’s telemedicine platform features a mobile app that supports seamless, two-way connections between crew members and shoreside medical professionals – all of whom are all experienced maritime professionals. We use satellite technology to ensure connectivity, even in the most remote areas. In fact, it’s measurably clearer and more reliable than traditional maritime radio connections.
Patients also appreciate the fact that they’re consistently paired with the same provider, so there’s no need to keep filling doctors in on their past issues and state of health. An ongoing relationship with a trusted partner is critical to effective care, especially for mental and emotional health concerns.
Here’s a quick overview of what VIKAND’s telemedicine solution offers users:
Access to care from anywhere using advanced satellite communication tools and medical technologies.
24/7 medical consultations with remote examinations and telemedicine capabilities.
Comprehensive, consistent and compliant management of each vessel operator’s unique healthcare challenges and needs.
Monthly “House Doctor” calls by a highly experienced marine medical team.
Individual programs to reduce the burden of lost labour due to chronic conditions.
Continuity of care by matching patients with the same medical professionals each time.
With three subscription tiers, a VIKAND telemedicine plan can be part of a Total Healthcare Solution for nearly any sized maritime business. Reach out today to learn more about a healthcare solution that can help reduce illnesses, injuries and medical diversions, lower your operational costs, and support healthier seafaring.