According to the ILO convention 164 every seafaring nation shall have a centre for telemedical advice to ships –TMAS. The TMAS centre shall provide medical advice round the clock all days. The centre shall be permanently staffed by physicians who are qualified in conducting remote consultations and well versed in the particular nature of treatment onboard ships.
The seafaring nations have established the TMAS service in different ways. Some countries –such as Italy and Spain – have specially dedicated organisations for this service. In other countries – such as Sweden, Denmark and Germany - the service is rendered by selected physicians who work in hospital units. Click "Radio Medico" to see the Norwegian organization.
The different TMAS centers all have their proprietary procedures and strategies both in terms of administration and of the practice of medicine. Within the maritime medicine the prevailing view has for a long time been that a standardization of the TMAS services is both necessary and wanted. An endeavour of this kind would firstly enhance the quality of the medical practice, and secondly, a standardization of reporting and registering of medical events will make a much better basis for research in the field.
The question of a TMAS network was taken up by the Norwegian Centre for Telemedicine and Integrated Care in 2004 and they produced an elaborate project proposal. Here is the summary of the proposal
To improve the health service for seafarers a cooperating network of Telemedical Maritime Assistance Services (TMAS’s) shall be established. The cooperation shall include sharing of information and experiences, development of common procedures, use of technology standards and protocols, education, training and implementation of special projects as well as starting a process of enhancing the competence of existing centres and helping nations to start up new centres so to provide the best possible care to seafarers. In other words, to establish a practical platform on which to build a better service aimed at those who are a long distance away from help if illness or accident should occur.
Because of other priorities, the telemedical centre withdrew from the work and no other initiative has been taken since.
NCMM has been approached by other professionals in the field with the question if they would be willing to lead a project of this kind. NCMM will take initiative on this front as soon as possible in 2011/2012.