Integrated Remote Healthcare at Sea in the 21st Century
There has been a revolution in the capability of delivering remote healthcare, in real-time, to anyone, anywhere in the world, from the North Sea to the Southern Ocean. The main areas of fundamental transformation are:
Medical Technology: The capability for ‘point-of-care’ testing has fundamentally changed how medicine is practiced, from the bedside in the most technical Intensive Care Unit, to the remotest place on Earth. Vital signs can be measured with remarkable accuracy, and tests and examinations performed on a patient to a level previously not possible. All this objective clinical information better guides the process of making diagnoses, and thus formulating more effective treatments that fundamentally preserves and improves lives.
Treatment Algorithms: The advent of Advanced Life Support and Advanced Trauma Life Support emergency treatment algorithms in the 1980s-90s introduced a structured way of delivering care in emergency clinical situations. The concept of treatment algorithms has been extended to many other areas of emergency medical and trauma conditions, and also other more routine medical conditions. Such an approach gives the non-medical professional clear guidance on recognising serious clinical situations (using ‘red-flags’), required immediate actions, and also when to call for advice.
Global Communications: Telemedical advice is available almost instantaneously, from anywhere in the world. Also, images and medical test results can be sent to shore-based medical advisors in almost real time, to improve the veracity of the advice given back to the vessel.
The presentation will highlight how the synergism between these quite disparate areas of development has facilitated a significant improvement in delivering very good quality healthcare to workers at sea and other remote locations.
Dr Spike Briggs - Managing Director, Medical Support Offshore
Dr Spike Briggs CEng FRCA is a Consultant in Intensive Care Medicine and Anaesthesia in the UK. He originally graduated with a degree in civil engineering, worked in the offshore industry for over ten years (including being at Piper Alpha in 1988), and then entered Medical School. He has sailed all his life, including a round the world yacht race in 1996.
For the past twenty years, he has been involved in providing medical advice for many yacht races, including the Volvo Ocean Race and the America’s Cup. He is an adviser to the Maritime and Coastguard Agency in the UK, and is lead author of the latest edition of the Ship Captain’s Medical Guide. He has also written several other books on remote healthcare at sea and on land. He is a member of the Medical Commission for World Sailing, organising the medical aspects of international competitive sailing, including the Olympic Games.
He is the owner and managing director of Medical Support Offshore Ltd, which provides support for superyachts, racing and leisure yachts, and commercial shipping worldwide.