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Charles Taylor Assistance Resumes Innovative Medical Escort Training To Optimise Patient Safety

Charles Taylor Assistance, the global repatriation, medical assistance and travel claims management provider, is optimising patient safety by resuming its innovative training for international medical escorts, using a section of an aircraft to create a realistic repatriation environment.

The bespoke programme, which was briefly put on hold during the pandemic, prepares medical escorts for every aspect of medical care in the air before they embark on live air transfers with patients. Part of a wider training agenda for Charles Taylor’s newly recruited medical escorts, it also enables existing escorts, all of whom work for the NHS, to carry out annual revalidation training.

The initiative is managed by Dr Lynn Gordon, chief medical officer for Charles Taylor Assistance; Stuart Cox, advanced life support instructor and critical care nurse practitioner; and George Cuthbert, medical store lead for Charles Taylor.

Dr Gordon comments, “This important training is testament to our commitment to the highest standards of clinical governance. Complemented by classroom teaching, it enables our highly qualified medical escorts to understand and overcome the logistical and medical challenges of providing care in an aircraft. It also empowers them with the knowledge that they have mitigated the risks and are in the best position to give patients optimum care.

“During the training, they will cover subjects ranging from aviation physiology to medical equipment troubleshooting and wheelchair access in airports.”

Charles Taylor Assistance provides global patient repatriations by air, sea, land and rail, on behalf of insurers and as a direct service. It has decades of experience assisting patients in challenging areas overseas and holds the standalone Commercial Aviation Medical Escort Accreditation from the European Aeromedical Institute, recognising its global expertise in patient transfers.


HCA Healthcare UK Launches Rapid Response Referral Service With The HCA UK Concierge Centre

Leading private healthcare provider HCA Healthcare UK has announced the launch of an exclusive Rapid Response Referral service, offering premier, bespoke medical pathways for patients with complex and often time critical care needs via The HCA UK Concierge Centre

The HCA UK Concierge Centre is the only Clinical Nurse Specialist led healthcare concierge in the UK to be registered with the Care Quality Commission (CQC)

Located in Marylebone, The HCA UK Concierge Centre provides a single point of contact where all healthcare needs can be addressed and navigated no matter how complex or difficult, including ICU to ICU transfers from all over the world. 

The Rapid Response Referral team undertook a pilot scheme earlier this year, in order to establish the service and ensure all international processes and protocols were in place regardless of the patients’ circumstances or geographical location. So far, the service has supported patients from 30 countries (including 6 red countries, whilst abiding by government regulations). They have repatriated many patients following trauma or illness when overseas; for example, the team worked with a London-based embassy in the aftermath of an earthquake in Eastern Europe to medivac a critically ill pregnant patient to London in order to receive specialist care and ultimately give birth safely. There has also been an increased demand in enquiries from NHS in-patients that want to transfer to the private sector often requiring complex care, which we are able to coordinate.

Now that the pilot scheme has been completed successfully, The HCA UK Concierge Centre will offer bespoke medical pathways for patients with an emphasis on rapid referral and solutions for patients that often have the most complex and time critical care needs. 

Operating 24 hours a day, 365 days a year, the team will respond to all requests within two hours, ensuring patients benefit from a rapid response referral for their individual health concerns. The service has also partnered with Charles Taylor Assistance (formerly Cega) to be able to arrange international travel for patients. This is the first direct partnership in the UK between a direct healthcare provider and a medivac aviation transfer specialist partnership, which means that the service can arrange global transfers which are not reliant on private medical insurance.

By providing a wholly patient-centred and seamless service, the centre removes the stressful and time-consuming process of finding and arranging your own healthcare. Clinical Nurse Advisers will personally support each patient through their medical journey, providing swift access to consultants and treatments in HCA Healthcare UK’s central London hospitals – including London Bridge Hospital, The Princess Grace Hospital, The Harley Street Clinic, The Lister Hospital, The Portland Hospital and The Wellington Hospital.

John Reay, President and CEO of HCA Healthcare UK said, “We are incredibly excited to be announcing this world-class service to UK and international patients alike. The HCA UK Concierge Centre is an offering we are extremely proud of – the dedication, expertise and personal, bespoke care provided by the centre’s Rapid Response Referral team is unrivalled. The peace of mind given to our patients is therefore invaluable.”

Director of Business Development at HCA Healthcare UK, Annabelle Neame, said, “Developing the HCA UK Concierge Centre and leading an extraordinary team that works closely with individuals and families has been a privilege. With HCA UK’s unmatched resources and pool of consultants, we are able to ensure clients can access the best possible care, quickly – covering everything from ICU transfers to neurorehabilitation right through to life-saving complex surgery and care. I have witnessed first-hand the value of the Rapid Response Referral service during times when patients desperately need reassurance, clarity and advice about their own health and that of their family members.”


ROUND TABLE: International Medical Cost Containment Strategies 2021

In a Closed Door Exclusive Round Table Business Forum, iPMI Magazine will speak with C-Suite Industry Leaders from the International Medical Cost Containment Market about International Medical Cost Containment Strategies For Global Medical Payors And Providers.

Although international risks have changed, the cost of healthcare around the world remains a key concern for the international private medical insurance market.

This exclusive round table will define the complex nature of international medical cost containment and how medical payors and providers may leverage cost containment strategies to improve the access and standard of care, whilst reducing the bottom line to the payor.

Talking Points

  • Real-time cost containment and medical case management;
  • Managing the costs in the advancements of new medical procedures and pharmaceuticals;
  • Discrepancies in pricing across global hospital networks;
  • iPMI Plan design to manage costs before emergency;
  • The use of technology to improve healthcare access and reduce the bottom line;
  • The financial pressures of COVID-19;
  • Combating international medical insurance fraud;
  • Provider network management and negotiations;
  • The challenges of cross-border regulatory and legal developments;
  • The future of medical cost containment and medical case management.

iPMI Magazine Cost Containment Network

Related Reading:

International Medical Cost Containment Strategies 2018


To apply for a seat at the table, please write to Christopher Knight, CEO, iPMIM: ceo[at]

About iPMI Magazine Round Tables

Leaders learn from leaders, and by invite only, iPMI Magazine Executive Round Table Business Forums feature leading C-Suite Executives from the world of iPMI. Limited in numbers and distributed to over 40,000 readers in 120+ countries, iPMI Magazine round tables are an educational, executive, and exclusive event.



International Accident And Health Insurance: Challenges And Opportunities In A Pandemic

By Dr. Lynn Gordon, Chief Medical Officer, Charles Taylor Assistance.

COVID-19 has had a major impact across the world; not just killing over a million people, but also disrupting the global economy, stalling global movement and forcing large swathes of the world’s population to work from home.

The 70 million+ cases of COVID-19 to date (confirmed by the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control at time of writing) have inevitably strained global resources. And, although it’s too early to assess the full impact of the virus on the international accident and health sector, it looks set to leave its mark. But it's not all negative.

Disrupted healthcare

Undeniably, COVID-19 has created challenges to the accessibility and availability of global healthcare; not least by causing international borders to be closed at short notice, local medical facilities to become stretched and hospital beds to become limited. This has affected COVID-19 and non COVID-19 patients alike.

At the same time, the virus has highlighted shortcomings in resource-limited countries, for instance where oxygen supplies are low.  In countries that have created state-designated COVID-19 hospitals with limited services, there has been little, and often no, opportunity to transfer patients to private alternatives. 

Adding to this complexity has been the limited availability of commercial flights; impacting the transfer of patients requiring transport to superior medical facilities or repatriation home. For COVID-19 positive patients, the only transfer option has involved specialized isolation pods on air ambulances. Meanwhile, lengthy compliance measures, including virus testing, have often been mandatory for all patients needing transfers.                     

Rising claims costs

The global rise in medical costs has long outpaced inflation, but COVID-19 has added to the financial pain. The pandemic has, for example, necessitated longer hospital stays for patients whose transfers have been held up by restrictions. It has also created an increased reliance on - more expensive - air ambulances. Combined with the added expense of business interruption, factors like these are increasing the cost of international accident and health claims.

The 2021 Global Medical Trends Survey Report by Willis Towers Watson acknowledges that many insurers are reporting a decreasing trend in claims this year, as most non-urgent medical treatments and surgeries have been delayed. But these delayed treatments, combined with the long-term (largely unknown) effects of COVID-19 suggest that a rapid escalation in claims lies ahead.

It's also important to remember that the availability of a vaccine is positive news, but that it calls for global motivation and the cooperation of communities worldwide to be truly effective. So, we're not out of the COVID-19 woods yet.

Opportunities in a post-COVID 19 world

That's not to say that there are no opportunities in the current climate - and one of these lies in digital development.

US healthcare providers lead the field in their adoption of digital technology; with almost 90% of US employees offered a telehealth benefit last year. COVID-19 is accelerating the wider use of telehealth around the world, which could well help to counteract medical cost inflation, whilst also providing an efficient, user-friendly way for policyholders to access medical triage services. And this could ease the pressure on potentially overstretched healthcare providers.

Digital tools can play an important part in intelligent underwriting too; for instance, by identifying individuals at risk of developing severe symptoms of COVID-19, or of any other serious illness. We’ve had a lot of interest in our own digital tool, Venture, which can assess these risks via online questionnaires completed by globally mobile employees. It can also correlate risks with the availability and standard of healthcare in specific destinations.  

Digital risk assessment tools like this offer an opportunity to access aggregated and anonymised data on the health of employees overseas, which can inform underwriting decisions for international accident and health policies.

Meeting mental health needs

The World Health Organisation (WHO) estimates that close to 1 billion people worldwide are already living with a mental disorder. And COVID-19 is swelling the numbers. It's no secret that the virus has added to the global mental health load; exacerbating anxiety, loneliness and depression.

But this presents an opportunity to better-fill the void in the provision of mental health coverage and servicing, with drivers from possible regulatory changes and increased employee need. And it’s worth bearing in mind that this need may become more acute as the global economy shrinks and corporates look increasingly to minimise business disruption and retain or improve productivity.

It’s likely that improving mental health coverage could benefit all parties. After all, the WHO estimates that, for every US$ 1 invested in scaled-up treatment for common mental disorders such as depression and anxiety, there is a return of US$ 5 in improved health and ability to work.

COVID-19 may have impacted the world - but collective determination and global cooperation will see us through it.





Travel Anxiety: Looking To The Future

By Chris Knight, Head of Assistance for Charles Taylor Assistance: providers of global medical & security assistance, travel risk and claims management.

Not so long ago, global travel intelligence platform Skift coined the term, "Permanxiety" to describe the high levels of worry felt by business travellers - about everything from technology to terrorism and culture wars to climate change.  Little did it anticipate the coming of COVID Anxiety to add to this extensive list.

Growing worries

Back in March of this year, almost every member company of the Global Business Travel Association (GBTA) reported that they had cancelled or suspended all or most international business travel, because of COVID-19. But, as global corporate travel almost ground to a halt, Charles Taylor Assistance continued to operate. Our UK-based teams worked closely with our global network of partners to ensure that we could support COVID-related medical assistance needs the world over. 

Today, over half of GBTA member companies are considering resuming all travel in the near future, although they do not currently have definitive plans for when it will resume. In addition, only one in ten GBTA member companies report they do not plan to do so.

GBTA CEO Scott Solombrino says, "As restrictions across the globe begin to lift, small green shoots of optimism are sprouting in the industry. That is a positive, albeit small, sign that we are finally headed in the right direction." But he adds, "People aren't going to travel until they feel safe. Our member companies want to see several health and safety steps taken at every stage of the travel process."

Set this situation against the backdrop of existing travel worries and it becomes obvious that travel anxiety and risk management have never been so important. Even before the pandemic, the Association of Corporate Travel Executives reported that a third of travel managers were seeing a rise in enquiries about business traveller safety.

New territory

There's little doubt that re-igniting global business travel will be a challenge that calls for a bespoke approach: companies with globally mobile employees will need to reconcile internal and external policies with their employees' disposition to travel.

It follows that, when international travel resumes, clients in the corporate travel sector will have an increasing hunger for medical and security assistance tools that enable them not just to react rapidly to emergencies, but also to support travelling employees before, during and after assignments abroad – and to reduce worries in the process.

Increased anxiety could also lead to better awareness and monitoring of travellers' mental health: something that was already happening well before the pandemic. And both employees and employers could reap the benefits.

Travel readiness 

Reducing a business traveller's "Permanxiety" will mean anticipating and mitigating the risks of every stage of their trip overseas (COVID related or otherwise) – and that includes the journey. 

Preparation will be crucial; not least via pre-travel medical and security risk assessments, employee-training for all eventualities, and education about everything from local social distancing regulations to preventing mosquito bites and road accidents.

As essential will be constant awareness of real-time health and security risks once an employee is abroad -  for example, not just the likelihood of contracting COVID-19, but also impending bad weather, terrorist attacks, political unrest and more. And this must come hand-in-hand with expert medical and security advice and responses.

Testament to this is the fact that recent GBTA surveys show that 73% of business travellers expect their company to contact them proactively within two hours of an emergency abroad. They also reveal that almost half (44%) of travellers expect their employers to use tools like GPS to locate them in an emergency.

Delivering these anxiety and risk mitigation measures is as important as planning them -  and that's where technology plays a vital part. 

Turning to technology

From our own risk portal - that helps screen employees for COVID-19 and assess back-to-work fitness - to international contact tracing and tracking apps, technology is playing an important part in reducing COVID-related worries.

Emily Roberts, managing director of our security partners Solace Global, says, "In a wider context, technology is already helping to prepare, inform and protect travellers working abroad, as well as those looking to resume travel. Our mobile app, for example, can offer access to everything from information about current COVID-19 travel restrictions and employees' related risks overseas, to real-time medical and security intelligence and alerts. 

"COVID has highlighted the need to know not just who is where currently, but also who has travelled recently – and to what countries. With risk solutions in place, travellers can start to travel again with an increased awareness of location-specific restrictions and necessary precautions. They should feel safe in the knowledge that, while these restrictions are being monitored, they won't be stranded overseas, should a 2nd peak of the pandemic close borders once again.

"With location-based monitoring, check-in and tracking tools, mobile technology can give employers a birds' eye view of their global staff and assets in the context of real-time threats on the ground in different countries abroad – so they can change travel plans or find and assist staff quickly, if an emergency or change in situation occur unexpectedly."

Importantly, an app can also offer employees speedy access to integrated medical and security assistance and remote advice, tailored to specific destinations and needs: all of which can ensure a safe return to work after an incident, be that COVID-related or otherwise.

In this context, it's clear that the onus will be on assistance partners to act proactively - and to reduce all kinds of traveller anxiety, the world over. 


Charles Taylor Assistance Adds Significant Expertise To In-House Medical Team

Dr Firas Alayash, a highly-experienced medical assistance doctor and occupational health physician, has joined Charles Taylor Assistance; boosting the global assistance and travel risk management provider's considerable in-house medical expertise.

Charles Taylor Assistance manages over 50,000 medical cases every year for insured and non-insured individuals, including those in the energy, charity and corporate sectors; often in remote and challenging global destinations.

The award-winning provider is set to benefit from Dr Alayash's extensive experience of (among other areas) onshore and offshore medical assistance and occupational health, remote and aviation medicine, cruise assistance, and mental wellbeing.

Trained in Spain, Wales, Switzerland and Germany, the multilingual Dr Alayash has worked all over the world; including in the oil, gas and mining sectors. He also has extensive experience of carrying out risk assessments and medical site reviews in developing countries; not least Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Armenia and South Sudan.

Dr Lynn Gordon, chief medical officer for Charles Taylor Assistance, comments, "We're constantly developing our services to retain our place at the forefront of global medical assistance - and are confident that Dr Alayash's wide-ranging skills will enhance our client offering the world over. We're delighted to welcome him to our in-house medical team."



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Medical, Healthcare, Expatriate And Travel Insurance

A guide to leading international medical, healthcare, expatriate and travel insurance underwriters, companies, providers, operating within leisure, expatriate and corporate travel business markets, globally.