Part 2 by David Suomi
Part 1: Travel Risk Management Checklist
Preparing Your Travelers for International Healthcare Challenges
Some would say the benefits of traveling internationally are endless. For students, they can experience different cultures, taste exotic foods, learn new languages. For business travelers, they're able to form new organizational alliances and work face-to-face with staff who perhaps they've only ever communicated with virtually.
However, international travel does come with some risks, specifically health-related. Close to 10% of all international travelers who venture to high risk destinations will become sick enough to need medical attention. Injury from traffic accidents while traveling aboard account for the leading cause of death for U.S. citizens.
Download a FREE Personal Medical Information Form Template
Organizations that request employees, students, or volunteers to travel internationally are responsible for ensuring their travelers are medically fit to travel and, once aboard, know the appropriate steps to take if they need to seek medical attention. Having a personal medical information form on file for each traveler is important. Vital information such as medical history, health insurance providers, and medical contact information can be captured on the form. Save these forms and other copies of travel documentation to the Document Profile Locker for easy and secure access to all your traveler's documentation. In addition, organizations should take the initiative to identify regional hospitals in each of the countries their travelers frequent. This list can be given to each traveler before departing as part of their trip preparation. The list should also be saved in their Document Profile Locker for quick and easy access in case of a medical emergency.
Health-related questions to ask your travelers before they depart include:
Do they have any medical conditions that may be aggravated with travel?
Have they obtained all necessary vaccinations? For a list of vaccination requirements by country, click here.
Have they identified the closest hospital that has been approved by their organization at each of their destinations?
Will they be carrying prescription drugs with them?
If yes, ensure all employees have a copy of their prescription list and medical form stored securely in their Document Profile Locker.
If they will need a prescription refill, is the medication available at their destination? How will it be paid for?
Are they traveling against the advice of their medical practitioner?
Have they reviewed and understood their organization's healthcare insurance policies? Will they be covered if medical evacuation is needed? If a family member is accompanying them, are they covered also?
Organizations should recommend to any employee/student who is traveling to enroll in Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP), provided by the U.S. Department of State. By signing up with STEP, travelers will be updated on important information about safety conditions. With enrollment, the U.S. Embassy is also able to locate them in the case of an emergency.
TDS has compiled a Duty of Care checklist that assists organizations in devising their own Travel Risk Management plan. We recommend organizations create a checklist that fits their needs and takes into account who is traveling and to what areas. A proactive organization's Travel Risk Management checklist goes beyond healthcare questions and covers items like cultural differences, security, physical environments, and currency.
Don't leave your organization exposed to travel risk. Create a partnership with your travelers by having an open dialogue about these critical questions. After all, a prepared traveler is a smart traveler.
David Suomi is an executive with over 25 years' experience in the international nonprofit and humanitarian sector. Working with TDS, David helps clients understand their exposure and advises them on how to educate their employees and assignees to reduce that exposure. David helps organizations define their travel philosophy, devise risk assessment strategies and create processes for ensuring their employees are fit for international business travel. He also works with organizations to assist them in completing their due diligence, while protecting themselves against any risk as it relates to travel. Specialties include Duty of Care/risk management, security programs, and training. Any organization, no matter what size, should have a Travel Policy. Contact TDS today to discuss how to create a robust travel policy that scales to your organization's size.