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How to avoid unnecessary ship diversions using telemedicine technology

Posted on 30th January 2017

Figures show that around one in five ships each year end up diverting because of some type of medical emergency. Diversions aren’t just inconvenient, they’re also expensive, often costing thousands of pounds due to wasted time and potentially a damaged cargo. No captain wants to divert their vessel unnecessarily; equally, no captain wants to put a member of their crew at risk through failing to obtain the right medical assistance if required. Although some of these diversions are inevitable, many could be avoided if it were possible to get an expert medical opinion on the urgency of the case. In this type of situation, telemedicine can be the perfect solution.

How does telemedicine work?

 When a doctor makes a diagnosis on an urgent case, much of the necessary information for accurate assessment can be obtained from a previous history in conjunction with visible signs of distress or injury and analysis of vital signs such as blood pressure, level of blood oxidation, pulse and body temperature. Telemedicine works by monitoring vital signs, using non-invasive, sensor based technology. The information obtained can then be conveyed to a land-based medical professional, who can use it to help form an accurate diagnosis, determining if a diversion is essential, or whether it’s possible to proceed onward, providing appropriate intervention from on-board resources.

Straight-forward, simple solution to accurate diagnosis

The telemedicine equipment is carried on the ship and can be quickly deployed when a crew member begins to display signs of illness or sustains an injury. Simple to use, once in position the sensors will start picking up the important information that doctors need to decide on the best course of action. The telemedicine options we offer are suitable for a wide range of applications and can be customised to meet the individual needs of your crew, for example by the inclusion of a blood-glucose monitor or an ECG monitor.

Obtaining a medical opinion that’s based on real time medical observations helps to provide the information decision-makers need when considering the necessity of making a diversion. There will be occasions when a diversion is absolutely essential, but in many others, doctors will be able to confidently suggest alternatives, as telemedicine equipment gives them the data they need to give an informed opinion. Even preventing one diversion is normally enough to recoup the cost of telemedicine equipment, as well as offering crew members the very best medical care whilst they’re on board.

If your shipping operation is not telehealth-equipped, iVital™ will revolutionize the way you safeguard your crew’s welfare. Get in touch with us by email or phone today to find out more or to arrange a demonstration of how iVital™ can save you money and safeguard your crew.

How can the marine industry benefit from using telemedicine on board – read more

What are the cost implications of misdiagnosing critical illness on board – read more