ER24 is supporting remote industries through its innovative Contact Centre solutions, offering second-line medical care for offshore drilling rigs and other topside clients.

Doctors and medics on remote rigs and platforms deal with a range of conditions and injuries without easy access to supporting expertise. ER24 fills this gap with 24 hour access to medical expertise and support.

Topside Medical Support (TMS) augments the service provided by the on-site doctors, offering a clinical review of a patient and advising if there is an alternate option for treatment that could be considered, keeping in mind the unique environment that the patient is in (e.g. limitation on certain medications due to safety) and to support the rig doctor on appropriate decisions regarding disembarkation of the patient for further management (either emergent or non-emergency).

As there are significant financial implications to the rig operators should a worker fall ill or be injured, it is vital to ensure that the management of the case is optimal and to ensure the best possible outcome for the patient with a speedy recovery and return to work as soon as reasonably possible.

“The rig doctor or medic can contact TMS via the ER24 Contact Centre either telephonically or via email, depending on the urgency of the case. The on-duty medical officer from ER24 then engages with the rig doctor or medic, and based on the outcome of the discussion, a plan for further management is agreed upon and implemented,” explains Dr Robyn Holgate, Chief Medical Officer of ER24.

While telephonic connectivity can, at times, present challenges, email may be used to ensure the accuracy of information relayed and allows for relevant images to be attached. The data connectivity to the rigs, fortunately, is well suited for email as it does not require continuous high-bandwidth streaming.

The key offering of TMS is a real-time case review with opinions to either support the rig doctor or advice on an alternate option. In addition, TMS can assist in obtaining additional information on case management where local information on the rig may be limited and online searching is not feasible for the rig medic. Depending on the client, ER24 will assist with relevant referrals and make arrangements for the on-shore management of the patient with relevant regular feedback to the client. In some cases, assistance may need to be provided to arrange aeromedical evacuation to a destination, providing more specialised care than is available at the local onshore facilities.

Common conditions include malaria and infectious conditions, especially upper respiratory conditions. However, conditions like suspected appendicitis and dental problems also occur fairly often and in all these cases, TMS provides a second opinion to the rig doctor as it is often challenging to decide whether to disembark the person for further treatment on shore or manage them on-board. Reports from TMS assist the rig management in identifying trends and possible areas of attention to limit or mitigate the impact of certain illnesses or injuries.

For those choosing a career on the rigs, they do not have the luxury or option of consulting another healthcare worker on site. This means that all trust needs to be placed on the rig doctor. Although they are well-trained, skilled and carefully selected, TMS provides the benefit of oversight and intervention in the event of something being missed and can also assist in doing research on the latest, most appropriate management of conditions that are not often seen.

Rigs are not the only demanding industry supported by ER24, with our Site Based Medical Services (SBMS) demonstrating practical medical support solutions in challenging and highly regulated environments.

“Such services prove invaluable when one considers what valuable assets each employee is to a company, and even more so in a technically unique environment (like off-shore) where the person not only needs to be highly skilled but also medically fit and trained in various safety procedures to mitigate the risk of working in the specific environment,” explains Dr Vernon Wessels, Medical Doctor: Site Based Medical Services. “To have oversight of every step of the process when an employee is ill or injured ensures that unnecessary delays and inappropriate management are avoided, which will result in improved outcomes for the employee and more cost-efficiency being realised by the employer.”

In essence, TMS allows the burden of the ill or injured worker to be shared, which allows for better long-term outcomes, less risk of medico-legal liability and more cost-efficiency in an environment where risks are high, pressure is on production targets and industry-specific safety standards need to be maintained.

For personalised medical solutions for your business, contact ER24 Site Based Medical Services on