Improving Healthcare in Remote Environments Via a New Integrated, Online Communication Platform

  • Simon Marshall International SOS
  • Neil Nerwich International SOS
  • Chris van Straten International SOS
  • Lars Petersen International SOS
Keywords: telemedicine, telehealth, ehealth, topside, offshore


International SOS delivers integrated medical solutions to remote and extreme remote onshore and offshore projects worldwide, using highly trained and experienced medics with a robust system of protocols, procedures and clear escalation criteria to our Topside support centres.  To enable improved medical escalations from the remote sites, we have developed a customised, online communication tool called the Digital Topside Platform (DTP).  The system was designed to allow simplified telemedical interaction, improved data security, and enable integrated patient care from initial presentation to return to work, with a focus on managing the case on-site, and patient confidentiality. The design process included a focus on user experience and workflow optimisation, and an iterative development methodology.  The system includes multiple components including:  management dashboards, interoperability with existing case management systems, messaging, video and file transfer features, and case data including medical and contextual information via a mix of auto-populated and manual entry data points.  The solution was designed for non-urgent cases, which represents >80% of case escalation volume. Initial deployment of the solution to offshore oil rigs in West Africa and the Intl.SOS Johannesburg Response Centre has demonstrated four key improvements over baseline data. A preliminary analysis of our data shows that 70-80% of the case escalations use the system, demonstrating a high rate of user adoption. The improvements shown were: (1) reduced need for urgent medical evacuation for non-life threatening conditions; (2) increased adherence to evidence based guidelines via more efficient clinical governance processes; (3) faster escalation processes via profile management and system integration; and (4) early escalation of work related injury cases resulting in reduced time off work.  Based on evidence to date, the system facilitates improved healthcare management for patients in the remote offshore environment.  The system continues to be deployed to additional sites and regions globally, which will generate a statistically significant dataset for further evaluation.

Author Biographies

Simon Marshall, International SOS
Senior Manager, Telehealth
Neil Nerwich, International SOS
Group Medical Director - Assistance
Chris van Straten, International SOS
Medical Director, Clinical Governance
Lars Petersen, International SOS
Regional Medical Director


International SOS Group. (2016). Facts & Figures 2016 infographic. Available at: accessed 6 January 2017.

International SOS Group. (2016). Quality. Available at: accessed 6 January 2017.

Phillips JC. Medical support by a team of doctors to offshore paramedics. J R Coll Gen Pract 1987;37(297):168-169.

Evjemo TE, Reegård K, Fernandes A. Telemedicine in Oil and Gas: Current status and potential improvements. Procedia Manufact 2015; 3:1289–1296.

How to Cite
Marshall, S., Nerwich, N., van Straten, C., & Petersen, L. (2017). Improving Healthcare in Remote Environments Via a New Integrated, Online Communication Platform. Journal of the International Society for Telemedicine and EHealth, 5, (GKR);e33:(1-3). Retrieved from
Global Telemedicine and eHealth Updates. Knowledge Resources. Vol. 10, 2017