CEGA Group is one of the world’s leading travel, risk, and medical assistance service company, mostly known for medical repatriation services. We had the chance to have their Chief Medical Officer, Dr Tim Hammond for an interview regarding the services of CEGA, his own experiences as CMO, as well as the company’s goals for the year.
Read more about it in his full interview below.
A: CEGA is an independent provider of travel-related services to underwriters, insurance companies and large corporations, both in the private and public sectors. Our services include medical and security assistance, pre-travel risk management, air ambulance provision and insurance claims management.
A: Global health risks to travel insurance and PMI customers haven’t changed significantly over recent years, but the remote destinations to which they are increasingly attracted can turn routine health problems into major worries.
High-quality treatment for gastroenteritis, for example, is a great deal more accessible in mainland Europe than in a less developed country, where facilities may be very basic. If an individual becomes seriously ill or has an accident in a far-flung destination, they could face an air transfer to the nearest hospital that meets their medical needs.
Fortunately, CEGA has, over the last 40+ years, developed a global network of trusted transport and medical providers, to meet these needs and to cater for increasingly adventurous and mobile travellers.
In some countries, the quality of medical care has been transformed over the last decade - largely due to a significant rise in tourist numbers. Whilst this means that more travellers are able to access (previously unavailable) quality in-country care, there have also been related cases of patient over-treatment and over-charging from medical providers.
countries affected by austerity measures, such as Greece, have seen a recent decline in medical care. Patients in need of emergency treatment are now routinely evacuated by air ambulance, where just five years ago they would have been treated on a major island or transported to an Athens hospital, courtesy of the Greek government and the European Health Insurance Card.
We address these challenges by ensuring that we have “on-the -ground” real-time knowledge of country-specific medical facilities and costs. We can then manage medical care and transport in the best interests of patients, employers and insurers alike.
A: Challenges change all the time. For example, a country affected by conflict or civil unrest may restrict patient access to trusted medical facilities and transport at short notice. Or members of a multinational workforce in need of cross-border medical care may not have the appropriate visas for travel. Or our own medical staff may have to travel to a high-risk area at very short notice.
Whatever the challenges, I make sure that we have solid contingency plans and global support networks firmly in place to overcome them.
Our multilingual in-house travel and medical teams work together: not just making sure that patients are fit to travel and enabling them to reach the very best medical care, but also organising among other things, taxis, road ambulances, visas, scheduled flight bookings, accommodation for relatives and much more.
It’s vital to anticipate needs. If a medical crew is travelling to pick up a patient from a high-risk area, security escorts will be provided (we work closely with security specialists). If a scheduled flight repatriation necessitates special arrangements for stretcher patients, different check-in procedures or extra leg-room to accommodate injuries, we will organise it. And if specialist equipment or medication is needed en-route to a hospital bed, we will make sure it is in place.
A: With multilingual medical, travel, risk management and claims specialists all in-house we offer policyholders a truly integrated and end to end service – available via a single call, 24/7.
Thanks to our partnership with security specialists Solace Global and our global network of providers, we can anticipate and minimise both medical and security risks and provide emergency assistance in all four corners of the world.
A: Increasingly, corporate travellers are requesting pre-travel medical risk assessments and reports - covering everything from the availability of overseas medical care to the feasibility of air ambulance evacuation. They also expect integrated access to both medical assistance and security services, so they can manage all their risks and emergencies in one place - and they want this to be accessible wherever they are in the world, at the touch of a screen, or via a single call.
By working with our security partners Solace Global we are focusing on meeting these changing needs, whilst also ensuring that we continue to have the breadth of expertise and global networks to manage patients’ medical care and make the right decisions, irrespective of their location or condition.
Above all, we continue to make sure that standards of care are consistently high and that we look at each case individually: always doing what is medically safe and appropriate for the patient.