The Role of Telemedicine in Sailing Medical Emergencies
The Role of Telemedicine in Sailing Medical Emergencies

Discover the importance of telemedicine for sailing medical emergencies and how it can provide access to medical professionals, faster response times, cost savings, and improved health outcomes while exploring the open sea.

The Role of Telemedicine in Sailing Medical Emergencies

As you embark on your sailing adventure with your family, leaving the rat race behind and embracing the open sea, it’s essential to be prepared for any medical emergencies that may arise. While you may have stocked your first aid kit and taken a basic first aid course, there are times when professional medical advice is necessary. This is where telemedicine comes into play.

Telemedicine is the use of telecommunications technology to provide medical information and services remotely. In the context of sailing, this means being able to consult with a medical professional while at sea, without having to make an emergency trip to the nearest port. In this article, we will explore the role of telemedicine in sailing medical emergencies, and how it can help you and your family stay safe and healthy on your journey.

What is Telemedicine?

Telemedicine is a rapidly growing field that allows healthcare professionals to evaluate, diagnose, and treat patients remotely using telecommunications technology. This can include video conferencing, phone calls, and even text messaging. Telemedicine has been used in various settings, from rural areas with limited access to healthcare to disaster relief efforts and military operations.

For sailors, telemedicine offers a way to access medical care while at sea, without having to divert course or wait for assistance. This can be especially valuable in situations where time is of the essence, such as a medical emergency or when dealing with a chronic condition that requires ongoing monitoring and treatment.

Benefits of Telemedicine for Sailors

There are several benefits to using telemedicine while sailing, including:

Access to Medical Professionals

One of the most significant advantages of telemedicine is the ability to consult with a medical professional, regardless of your location. This can be especially valuable when sailing in remote areas or when dealing with a medical issue that requires specialized knowledge.

Faster Response Times

In a medical emergency, time is often of the essence. Telemedicine allows you to connect with a healthcare professional quickly, without having to wait for assistance to arrive or divert your course to the nearest port. This can be crucial in situations where immediate medical attention is required.

Cost Savings

While the cost of telemedicine services can vary, it is generally more affordable than the expenses associated with diverting your course or arranging for emergency medical assistance. Additionally, telemedicine can help you avoid unnecessary trips to the doctor or hospital, saving you both time and money.

Improved Health Outcomes

By providing access to medical care when and where it’s needed, telemedicine can help improve health outcomes for sailors. This can be especially important for those with chronic conditions that require ongoing monitoring and treatment, as well as for addressing minor medical issues before they become more serious.

How to Access Telemedicine Services While Sailing

There are several ways to access telemedicine services while sailing, depending on your needs and the technology available to you. Some options include:

Satellite Phones

Satellite phones allow you to make phone calls from virtually anywhere in the world, making them an excellent option for accessing telemedicine services while at sea. Many telemedicine providers offer phone consultations, allowing you to speak directly with a medical professional and receive advice and guidance on how to handle a medical issue.

Internet Access

If you have internet access on your boat, you may be able to use video conferencing or other online platforms to connect with a healthcare professional. This can be especially helpful in situations where a visual assessment is necessary, such as evaluating a wound or rash.

Telemedicine Apps

There are several telemedicine apps available that can be used on smartphones or tablets, allowing you to connect with a healthcare professional via video chat or messaging. These apps can be a convenient way to access medical care while sailing, as long as you have a reliable internet connection.

Preparing for Telemedicine Consultations

To make the most of your telemedicine consultation, it’s essential to be prepared. Here are some tips to help ensure a successful telemedicine experience:

Gather Relevant Information

Before your consultation, gather any relevant information about your medical issue, including symptoms, medications, and any previous treatments or diagnoses. This will help the healthcare professional better understand your situation and provide appropriate advice and guidance.

Ensure a Reliable Connection

Whether you’re using a satellite phone, internet access, or a telemedicine app, it’s essential to have a reliable connection during your consultation. Test your connection beforehand and make sure you have a backup plan in case of technical difficulties.

Have a First Aid Kit on Hand

Having a well-stocked first aid kit on your boat is essential for addressing minor medical issues and following the advice of a healthcare professional during a telemedicine consultation. Make sure your first aid kit is up-to-date and includes items such as bandages, antiseptic wipes, pain relievers, and any necessary prescription medications.

Be Prepared to Take Action

In some cases, a telemedicine consultation may result in the recommendation to seek immediate medical attention or divert your course to the nearest port. Be prepared to take action if necessary and have a plan in place for dealing with medical emergencies.


Telemedicine can play a crucial role in addressing medical emergencies and maintaining the health and well-being of sailors and their families. By providing access to medical professionals, faster response times, cost savings, and improved health outcomes, telemedicine can help ensure a safe and enjoyable sailing adventure.

As you embark on your journey, consider incorporating telemedicine services into your safety plan and familiarize yourself with the available options and technology. By being prepared and proactive, you can help ensure the health and safety of your family as you explore the open sea together.