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Choosing a Health Solution for Your Seafarers? Here's What You Need to Consider


As a ship owner, manager, or operator you have a responsibility to ensure the safety and well-being of your seafarers.

Otherwise known as a Duty of Care, this responsibility applies to every aspect of your operations and medical is no exception. In fact, the Maritime Labour Convention (MLC) 2006 was recently amended “to ensure that medical advice by radio or satellite communication is available by a pre-arranged system to ships at sea”, highlighting the growing importance of telemedical services within the industry.

For over 35 years International SOS has been providing services to the maritime community, acting as a health partner and ensuring that when medical assistance is needed your seafarers will get itwe are available 24/7/365, whether it’s an emergency or routine medical situation.

Around the clock support is the minimum you should expect of a health provider, but a robust infrastructure that ensures expert service delivery, comprises of so many more elements. 

Here are five key elements you should look for in a medical services provider:

  1. Are plans in place to ensure seamless service, even during unforeseen events and situations?

    At International SOS, we ensure that your crew can speak to a medical professional, whenever, wherever and we’re prepared for any eventuality that could affect our operations, with business continuity plans that include alternative sites.
    We have 35+ years of experience and a tried and tested service that clients rely on, supporting calls every day: in the skies, at sea and on land.
  2. Do they know the best shoreside medical providers to refer you to?

    When your vessel has to dock unexpectedly, or your crew need to visit a shoreside doctor – how do you guarantee, not only a high quality of medical care will be provided but also that it will be fair and reasonably priced?
    International SOS have a dedicated team that verify and credential the quality of shoreside medical facilities, using one standardised, global criterion.

    The network ensures that if your crew need to go shoreside, they will receive the best standard of medical care, within that location.
  3. Can the provider arrange patient movement on your behalf?

    In a medical situation that requires evacuation and/or repatriation, our knowledge is unparalleled.

    Not only do we regularly arrange air ambulances through a maintained network of credentialled aviation providers globally but we also know the standards of medical care within that particular area of the world, so we can provide an expert assessment of whether evacuation is required and how this can be accomplished.

    Our team have extensive experience in patient transportation, including repatriation of mariners by commercial means, with a medical escort if required.
  4. Do they understand the maritime environment?

    Our dedicated team of doctors, nurses and medical professionals understand the unique needs of seafarers and have handled thousands of cases for this community, globally.

    For a seamless service, maritime clients are provided with one centralised contact number in Johannesburg. If local expertise or further language capabilities are required, we can leverage support from our 27 Assistance centres.

    In addition, we work closely with Future Care, part of the International SOS Group of Companies. Future Care also provide global telemedical and health services to seafarers, specialising particularly within the U.S. The company has a large focus on cost containment, made possible by a team of medical bill specialists and their strong partnerships with the P&I clubs.
  5. Are their systems secure?

    Data security is an ever-important topic within the maritime industry. When handling client information, International SOS have systems in place to guarantee the safety and security of client data, including:
    • Defined data privacy and data protection protocols
    • Secure servers that hold client information (ISO Certification: Global ISO 9001:2008 certification: this certifies that we have superior Quality Management Processes in place, meet regulatory requirements, and continually work to ensure customer satisfaction.)

Find out more

International SOS have access to over 6,000 multidisciplinary medical professionals, comprising of nurses, medics and doctors, many of whom are specialised in wide ranging fields from mental health to diving medicine.

Our global reach is unparalleled and provides essential support to commercial vessels all over the world, whenever they need it. Learn how we can help your vessel.