What to do in case a business traveller becomes seriously ill somewhere in Siberia? Can you fly with an ear infection? How well is your hospitalised employee cared for in China? Is the patient at risk of being “trapped” by a private clinic that charges high rates for excessive medical treatment?
(Picture (c): EMA Finland. A small propeller plane is used for domestic and short-haul repatriations.)
The above are some of the questions that EMA Finland Ltd’s experts answer regularly. EMA offers consulting and patient transfer services to businesses, airlines and insurance companies, among others. When the EMA professionals set out to urgently bring a patient back to Finland, American Express Global Business Travel takes care of the travel arrangements.
As a rule, the EMA travel bookings come on short notice. When a traveller becomes injured or ill abroad, EMA’s health care professionals assess the issue, evaluate when the patient is able to travel and what kind of special arrangements are required for their travel. The special arrangements may include using a stretcher or oxygen therapy on the flight and this is where our team comes to assistance.
– Personal service by the team is essential for us, emphasises Head of Coordination Sara Purola. – The availability of special arrangements varies between flights and airlines. As a result, our travel bookings may involve complex combinations of individual elements and alternative routes. Often, the patients are located in exotic destinations or places which are otherwise difficult to reach.
Falling ill knows no time. It is no wonder that the EMA professional often use our Finnish on-call service. The situations are dynamic, so phone calls and travel rearrangements also take place at nights and during weekends. EMA and American Express Global Business Travel are both on-call 24/7.
Actually, EMA and American Express GBT have a lot in common. – We value our Finnish service and expertise. GBT understands our needs, which eliminates the need to explain everything in detail, Sara says. Incidentally, the same things – solid expertise and the ability to help customers 24/7 in Finnish even in difficult situations – are differentiating factors for EMA’s own service as well.
What kind of companies can use EMA’s services? – All companies whose employees travel, explains EMA’s Medical Director Tuomas Hiltunen. – Businesses are particularly at risk if they operate under difficult conditions, for example at sea, or if their employees often travel to exotic destinations or places where there are challenges relating to the availability of health care services or the entire local infrastructure. Moving abroad for extensive projects with the whole family is also something that requires special arrangements.
A company can agree with EMA on consulting services, for example, which allows travellers to call the on-call number to ask for assistance in Finnish if they have concerns about their condition, the required treatment or the quality of care that they have received.
On the other hand, preventive consulting may involve reviewing the risks concerning the company and its key travellers: What are the destinations like? What are their most common health risks and what is their level of health care? Which hospital should be preferred? Did you know that, in Chinese and Japanese hospitals, basic care, such as food and washing the patient, is the relatives’ responsibility?
And what about those employees who travel the most? Do they have chronic conditions? For example, a traveller may be provided with a medical kit that addresses the most common health problems at the destination and the traveller’s own condition. Then, the traveller can care for their condition using safe, familiar medication and, if necessary, telephone consultation.
In addition, EMA’s service complements companies’ insurance services. – Is your insurance company able to provide you a coverage decision on health care services or medical repatriation during the weekend, Tuomas aptly asks. When time equals health as well as money, fast decision-making is key. A company contract ensures that an operation can be started regardless of time or day.
When a basically healthy manager suffered from a medical emergency far away abroad, the situation analysis had been completed and arrangements for their medical repatriation were underway within 24 hours. Fast transportation to Finland for medical care allowed the manager to return to work quickly, which further reduced the risks to the company.
Accidents may happen during travel but, fortunately, help may be just a phone call away.
EMA is a Finnish company owned by its employees. The company has helped Finnish travellers stay safe for more than 25 years. It started its operations in 1989 as a medical service for travellers and a 24-hour medical assistance service and, since then, it has been expanded to cover emergency medical services, consultation and training. Today, EMA employs doctors and nurses of various specialities as well as other experts in the sector. In addition, EMA has been active in establishing the emergency medicine system and medical helicopter operations in Finland.