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Top 5 things to consider when you need medical assistance in high-risk areas

Access to quality medical assistance in high-risk areas is everything when you’re in an unpredictable part of the world. That’s because high-risk areas are incredibly challenging; James Veysey, Assist360’s CEO, can attest to this. He has spent plenty of time in conflict-affected areas and says, “It is tough, often monotonous, sometimes dangerous, occasionally scary, always frustrating and usually quite alien.” If you’re in a complex or fragile region, you don’t want emergency medical assistance to be one of those hurdles – you want the best care possible.  

Whether you’re working for an NGO in Haiti or doing a bucket-list trek through remote parts of Africa, instant and reliable access to on-the-ground medical care should be a given, not a nice to have. 

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Choosing the right medical assistance provider is crucial when travelling in volatile and hard-to-reach areas.

Here are the top five things to consider when you need medical assistance in high-risk areas – and how Assist360 provides support when you most need it.  

Does the medical assistance provider have a strong local network in the high-risk area?

When travelling to a high-risk area, individuals should be aware of what risks exist – a search on the UK’s Foreign Travel Advice portal or the U.S. government’s Travel Advisory website are good places to start. However, these are general overviews and for a medical emergency, on-the-ground knowledge, along with robust local provider networks, is indispensable.  

High-risk area medical assistance providers that can tap into quality, vetted local medical resources means: 

  • Faster response times  
  • Better availability 
  • More decision-making flexibility, and  
  • Less cost 

For example, when Assist360 needed to do a medevac for a client in a rural outpost in South Sudan who had life-threatening malaria symptoms, we could quickly leverage our local network to get specialised care in Juba. There was no road access and Assist360 organised a local air ambulance as well as two medical escorts to stabilise the patient and transfer him to the capital. The hospital admission was taken care of by Assist360; local partners were used resulting in a much faster turnaround time and a $16,000 cheaper medevac. 

Does the medical assistance provider have high-risk area experience?

Access to medical assistance in a high-risk area requires a provider with plenty of experience so that clients can get the right medical support when they need it. In addition, an experienced provider will have a solid and reliable network in place so specialists – who understand local contexts – can quickly respond. 

“Assist360 has been operating in high-risk areas for the past 20 years, where we’ve helped tens of thousands of people, including humanitarian and development staff across Africa, the Middle East and Central Asia get the medical assistance they need,” says Dr Francesca Harper, Senior Medical Doctor at Assist360.

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Humanitarian and development workers deserve the best quality support when it comes to medical assistance.

Having this kind of experience is invaluable because it means we can use our network to quickly find the right solution – often in very challenging conditions when time is of the essence. Assist360s global response centre also provides medical expertise and operational support under one roof. This allows us to communicate with and support onsite medical professionals and ensure patient access to appropriate care at a centre of medical excellence within our network.  

Are the high-risk area’s medical assistance services comprehensive

A wide range of services with round-the-clock accessibility, from emergency medical evacuation to telemedicine, is crucial, whether life-threatening or not. In a high-risk area, you’ll want access to advice, because you may need to make quick decisions, even if you have a minor injury and want to know where the best local facility is to treat it.     

Consider a provider which has multilingual support and multi-channel communication that gives you access to an expert responder who can offer immediate advice, regardless of whether your situation is critical or not. “Along with an expert responder, the ability to provide comprehensive services, like facilitating consultations with multi-disciplinary teams, is essential for more complex medical situations,” says Dr Harper.  

“Navigating a foreign healthcare system can be daunting or near impossible for an individual, which is where a trusted medical assistance company can streamline this process and ensure the best possible outcome when unforeseen scenarios invariably occur.” 

Also, check if the provider has an app with a panic function that gives you instant access to a 24/7 response centre. Bonus points if it can track you, and keeps you connected to real-time updates and alerts so you can make informed decisions, no matter where you are. 

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The right medical assistance provider will provide tools to keep you connected no matter where you are.

Is the medical assistance in the high-risk area high quality

High-quality medical care is crucial in a high-risk environment – and without the right provider, it can be challenging to access. Language barriers, different cultural contexts, poor medical infrastructure, and a lack of proper resources all present significant issues that can hamper patient care.  

In a high-risk medical assistance environment, it’s also critical that you have someone in your corner, because a lot more is at stake than usual. A provider like Assist360 helps guide the medical process, from when you call the responder to your discharge, and we are in contact with the medical provider from start to finish.  

Does the high-risk area medical assistance offer clear and transparent pricing?

Before signing up with a provider, make sure there are no hidden fees, and be clear on how they handle costs without compromising on patient care.  

Sometimes medical assistance providers in high-risk areas without strong local networks will quote excessive amounts for a medical evacuation to another country, or they’ll sign off on unnecessary treatments and services without you realising it.  

Assist360 prides itself on cost containment and transparent pricing. Due to our well-established provider network and facility agreements, we can: 

  • Negotiate better reimbursement rates
  • Offer lower co-pays and deductibles
  • Help clients save between 25% to 35% per case.

One less thing to worry about  

Having the right medical assistance provider is essential if you’re in a high-risk area. Knowing that you’ll be taken care of in a medical emergency – whether it’s quick, expert advice on the phone or you need a medivac for complex life-saving treatment – helps give you peace of mind. 

Having one less thing to worry about helps when you’re in an unpredictable environment. As James Veysey, Assist360’s CEO, notes, complex and fragile regions can sometimes be dangerous and occasionally scary, but the experiences can be invaluable, too.  

“On the flip side, spending time in these places can also be extremely rewarding,” says Veysey. “You’ll come away with rich human encounters, humbling experiences, plenty of laughter, and great friendships that last forever.” 

For peace of mind in challenging locations, contact Assist360 today  

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