healthcaretechoutlook

TRM in the Digital Age - Keeping Your Employees Safe Abroad in the Global Economy

By Tim Daniel, EVP, International SOS

Tim Daniel, EVP, International SOS

While terrorism and disasters grab the headlines, travelers are more likely to have a health emergency overseas. In fact, more than 70 percent of senior executive travelers have experienced a medical problem abroad, according to data from International SOS Travel Risk Map 2016. In today’s global economy, international business travel has shifted from being optional to a required activity. Companies and organizations are rapidly expanding their international footprint, particularlyto under developed markets, ushering in a host of new medical and security challengesfacingmobile workers.With that, a few questions you should ask yourself: 

“Companies and organizations across a number of industries are updating their travel preparedness plans, specifically leveraging new technologies” 

• Do your travelers know whether there are any incidents or threats awaiting them when they travel?
• Do they know who to call if they were to need medical or travel security advice? 
• What might happen if an employee travels unprepared to both them and the company?  

To address these questions, companies and organizations across a number of industries are updating their travel preparedness plans, specifically leveraging newtechnologies designed to enhance their capacity to mitigate risk and protect employees and expatriates living and working abroad. 

The words “travel risk management” often conjure images of earthquakes, floods and infectious disease outbreaks. Those are the extreme incidents that make headlines. But travel management encompasses risk situations that occur every day often un-noticed by the public.As companies and organizations continue to ride the globalization wave, they rely onadvanced technologies capable of providing tools and services, such as assistance apps, 24/7 tracking technology, direct interfacing with accredited medical staff, and more that helpfulfill theirduty of care – themoral and legal obligations of employers to their employees in safeguarding their well-being while traveling or working abroad. These tools and services also equip theirmobile workerswith the “know-how” to stay safe and healthy while on assignment.  

Incorporating new technology typically manifests in a two-pronged approach: seamlessimplementation of this technology with your company’s existing duty of care whileupdating your existing approach to duty of care to a more holistic, integrated model. These items are mutually dependent and when properly executed can help you smoothly integrate new technology to increase your organization’s ability to keep employees safe. 

Seamless Implementation  

A smooth implementation is the most important aspect of incorporating any new health and/or safety-oriented technology – simply giving your employees a new app to download or device to use is not enough.Preparation prior to a trip is essential, especially when health is on the line. Employees should set up their app or device prior to their trip, be thoroughly guided through the necessary technology training and be properly educated on how to react in the event of a medical emergency. In addition to the app or device, you should proactively manage medical and security risks through a process that helpsyou assess, advise and assist throughout an employee’s trip.Within this process, each step can bring its own technologies to the table and over the course of your employee’s trip or assignment, these steps will help with every aspect of travel from pre-trip preparations to abroad assistance. 

Assessing your medical and security risks not only means offering ways to prepare your global workforce prior to their travels, but also assessing your organizations overall medical and security risks quickly and effectively. Risk assessment prior to your trip can help you better understand medical and security risks in the markets where you operate, prepare your employees for what lies ahead, and also help you immediately recognize which destinations will require preventative risk assessment procedures and preparation programs. When it comes to assessment, several technologies can be extremely beneficial, including an assistance app or a communications portal. An assistance app quickly allows employees to reach an assistance center or search for location-based medical and security advice. Leveraging this information helps employees make well-informed decisions on any potential medical or security issues. Additionally, a communications portal allows you to easily disseminate company or organization-specific information and important messages to employees to ensure they are adequately prepared for their travels and have all the required travel info at their fingertips.  

Advising employees throughout the course of their trip is also a critical point in this feedback loop, allowing employees to either maintain their health or be aware of and mitigate potential issues. While it is important to keep employees aware of developing events, companies must also continuously track these happenings and support their employees. A travel tracking app is the most beneficial resource in these scenarios, allowing organizations to know exactly where their employees are, plan and act immediately in the event of a medical crisis or simply arm employees with information to keep them safe and secure. For employees, travel tracking apps offer real-time updates during their travels so they can anticipate potential risks and minimize disruption to their work. Travel tracking apps can also proactively notify management teams about potential risks and issues so they can stay informed and prepared to make response decisions.  

Although the assessment and advising steps should mitigate any potential issues, assisting capabilities are necessary in case of an emergency. In this instance, an assistance app proves extremely useful by allowing employees to be just one tap away from help and experts and also be privy to essential information and advice in the palm of their hand. Additionally, utilizing the travel tracking app in these scenarios will save companies valuable time by aggregating traveler’s data, inform you when incidents that might affect them occur, and provide you with a communications capability. Once you have identified where your travelers are, a travel tracking app allows you to communicate with your employees quickly without system delay through integrated email and two-way SMS function. 

Technology Integration with Duty of Care 

Once your company hasadoptednew technologies, you will need to ensure they are integrated into your company’s larger duty of care model.Duty of care already exists in the majority of companies and organizations operating globally, but it is important to update your duty of care to reflect the digital age. This combination of integrated travel risk mitigation services is the ultimate tool to ensure employees are free from medical and security risks during their travels.  

Although you can’t predict precise challenges and dangers will arise during an employee’s travels, you can prepare and arm your company and employees though adoption and implementation of new technologies into your company’s overall preparedness plan. Proper implementation of these new technologies can help keep your employees safe while traveling and give you the peace of mind needed to focus on your core business activities.