Uninsured individuals, corporate bodies, government organisations and others are increasingly choosing and paying for their own medical repatriation providers. But stories abound of patients with painful injuries bring crammed into upright airline seats by disreputable repatriation “specialists”. And no one wants that sort of distress added to an already stressful situation.
How then, can you distinguish between the reliable repatriation provider and their unreliable counterpart?
Steer clear of the “one-size fits all” approach
Above all, make sure that a repatriation provider is going to take a bespoke approach. Check that they base any travel decisions on a full medical assessment of the patient and collaborative discussions with his or her treating doctor, in whatever language they speak.
Ensure too that they have the experience and capacity to deal with the medical, security and geographical challenges specific to your case. For instance, will they be able to act quickly if a patient needs an ambulance with an armed escort to reach their flight home? Or if flooding blocks access for a road ambulance? Do they have seamless security support?
Also check that an appropriate medical escort will accompany the patient throughout their journey: from one hospital bed to the other, or from bed to home.
A bespoke service may involve (just for a start) road transfers by ambulance; sea transfers by boat; commercial flights with stretchers, seats or full intensive care support and, of course, air ambulances. Does the provider you have in mind offer a full range of repatriation options like these?
Can they manage all of this within the context of (often tight) time constraints: relying on a global network of trusted transport and administrative partners to do so? What about their ability to make travel arrangements for relatives, translate important medical information and communicate with medical centres all over the world? Don’t just take their word for it, find out what other customers say about their service.
Medical repatriation is a highly complex operation that must be organised with expert precision. Don't jeopardise your duty of care programme by leaving it to the inexperienced provider.
This post was written by Nick Simon, a business development manager for CEGA.