Thomas Miller Claims Management (TMCM) announced the launch of its new marine medical solution ‘BlueMed’ for the shipping, cruise and large yacht sectors which integrates a specialised marine and energy “telemedicine” service to create a complete package.
The telemedicine service, provided by a team of emergency and trauma doctors in Aberdeen, gives both routine and urgent medical advice to vessels at sea, supervising on-board treatment until disembarkation to a hospital is possible, and also seeking to avoid costly diversions and evacuations when these are not necessary.
TMCM Claims Director, Pat Bond, says:
“TMCM has worked with many telemedicine providers, but choosing the right one has been a matter of listening to clients over time, and being selective. Some of the telemedicine products have been around a while, but the quality is variable.
“Free radio medical services are not what they were, and some of the commercial operations might leave a vessel waiting an hour or more before they actually get a doctor on the line.
“We have integrated a first-class provider who puts a UK emergency or trauma doctor on the line within minutes. They were working for ship managers, large yacht owners and North Sea oil operators even before we came along, and the partnership with our shore- side case management works seamlessly.”
The importance of taking good care of maritime crew has begun to be acknowledged in recent years, and crew employment conditions are now the subject of international regulation, through the ILO’s Maritime Labour Convention. Pre-employment Medical Examination (PEME) schemes, pioneered by the UK P&I Club 20 years ago, help to ensure a healthier crew cohort, while significant attention has also been given to the dangers and effects of fatigue, stress and mental illness among crew.
While these long-term initiatives have done much to improve crew health and reduce risk at sea, for most maritime employers crew health is a day-to-day operational issue. Vessels cannot carry inactive crew for long, and if treatment on board or ashore does not solve a medical problem then repatriation and substitution is necessary. TMCM says that specialised maritime medical advice to the ship and an expert review of reports from ashore, can help to avoid or reduce these costs.
Once a crewmember is home, the employer has obligations to provide treatment and sick pay, and in more serious cases a disability payment may be due or a claim for damages may arise. Skilled and active case management is therefore in everyone’s best interest.
A whole maritime medical industry has developed in recent years, but most providers are travel or medical assistance companies with little appreciation of maritime operations, crew employment and contracts, manning agency and ship management structures, or the cost implications of passive case management.
Source: Thomas Miller Claims Management