Interview: Dr Robert Quigley, Medical Director at International SOS

How has your role evolved over time and how have you had to adapt to the pandemic?

Like most of my colleagues who oversee global medical assistance platforms, our role evolves with the emergence and disappearance of old/new infectious diseases, civil/regional stability and the economy.

Prior to the Covid-19 pandemic, our role as an organization was in many ways reactive, where we provided assistance to business travelers crossing borders. With the unprecedented effects of this global public health crisis, business travel has come to a virtual halt. Therefore, we had to change our value proposition. We have evolved from a reactive service provider to a proactive provider where, through our Workforce Resilience Program, we have helped organizations, across all industries, with quarantine/isolation protocols, immunization programs and return-to-work policies/procedures.

On the medical side of support, what technological advances would you say have changed the most since the pandemic, and do you think they have accelerated change?

The first and most obvious technological advancement we have seen during the pandemic is the explosion of telehealth. Healthcare professionals (HCPs), including those providing emotional support, could suddenly be consulted virtually. This protected the health of the provider as well as that of the patient.

The second technological advance encountered, which was just as impactful, was the evolution of the digital platform for communication between doctors. Zoom and Teams, to name just two, have become the standard platform for communication between doctors even if the participants were in the same office.

These two advances have accelerated the principles of workforce health and safety to the forefront of operations.