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ASSISTANCE & REPATRIATION REVIEW 2018


the medical director in an assistance firm to be, say, a doctor or a nurse, to make any clinical decisions and provide strategic leadership, ‘a medical degree qualification is highly recommended’.


“Te decisions that I make on a daily basis are deeply clinical and I can stand behind my medical licensing when making them, as well as through my advanced training with my Certified Independent Medical Examiner (CIME), Advanced Trauma Life Support (ATLS) and over two decades’ experience in the prehospital and hospital space,” Dr Quinn explained. “Te insight and expert guidance I give to the team is highly dependent on my clinical acumen and experience, as well as through accepted best practices. So an MD degree or other higher degrees are certainly very helpful. Te rest of our clinical advising team are all certified Independent Medical Examiners (IMEs), consultants in their respective fields and contribute greatly to the overall clinical efforts.” At marm in Turkey, sentiments are similar. Dr Handan Umur, a medical doctor with the assistance provider, told ITIJ: “At least three to five years of field experience to provide healthcare directly to patients is a requirement for our company. In the current healthcare environment, the most effective medical directors combine clinical expertise and credibility with forward-thinking, hands-on management ability. Tey serve as vital links connecting and addressing the needs of customers, providers, physicians, administrators and other key stakeholders, influencing all aspects of healthcare decision making. It is a demanding but rewarding role, benefiting from solid medical experience, strong


leadership skills and resilience.” Tere are other non-medical skills that are desirable here too. HTH Worldwide Medical Director Dr Frank Gillingham asserts that the ideal assistance company doctor should be multilingual and have a thorough understanding of ‘cultural, economic and capability differences in healthcare systems around the world’, while Dr Patel explains that an understanding of healthcare systems around the world,


The insight and expert guidance I give to the team is highly dependent on my clinical acumen and experience


along with regional capabilities, helps in making an informed decision on whether appropriate treatment is available locally, or if the member needs to be evacuated. “We at Aetna International routinely visit hospitals and facilities around the world to enhance our understanding of different healthcare systems and identify regional centres of excellence where our members can expect to receive the best treatments and have a positive clinical outcome,” he said. “By doing this, we can also identify


centres that are not abiding by international best practice and, where possible, advise members about alternative facilities.” In terms of experience, this clearly isn’t a role that you’d want to enter straight from med school. A medical director should have ‘at least 10 years of clinical experience in a specialty such as emergency medicine or intensive care’, said Dr Gillingham, and also have a thorough understanding of aviation medicine. Similarly, for Dr Patel the ideal candidate should have as broad an experience as possible, including emergency medicine and anaesthesiology, along with experience in general medicine and the surgical specialities. Robin Ingle, Chairman of Ingle International, part of the Ingle Group, which provides travel insurance and emergency assistance services, concurs that emergency experience is important: “Emergency room experience is good, as they will often be required to make decisions with limited information.” He also highlights the value of ‘travel medical experience’, such as knowledge of infectious diseases, air and ground evacuations, and unusual, remote and distant medical treatment. Continuous development is also useful, Ingle adds: “It’s important to find a medical director who can get additional certification over time. Tat could include dealing with air evacuation, unusual medical conditions, infectious disease and cardiac issues.” Today’s medical directors are a new breed of leaders, says Dr Umur, with a widely expanded range of responsibilities and a greater external focus: “Tese evolving responsibilities include substantial


44 | International Travel & Health Insurance Journal


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