In Discussion with Medilink CEO Simon Camilleri
At the start of a new year, Medilink International CEO Simon Camilleri takes a personal look back at the origins and guiding principles of the company and sheds light on its 2018 plans for expansion driven by technology and the needs of its global client base.
What brought Medilink onto the scene in medical services assistance?
Medilink started life operating in Libya as a medical supplies company some 22 years ago. Before its inception, I had personally spent time in Libya on a student exchange and had immediately been captivated by the country, its people and the whole North African way of life. This love for the region motivated me to develop a business in Libya. Medical services were not only urgently needed there, but they were also an ethical sector to be involved in.
It was while in the country delivering supplies, that we were approached by the Libyan government to provide a number of medical assistance services to general hospitals and other public entities. At that time, Libya suffered a lack of even some basic medical services. We put together entire multinational surgical teams for deployment in Libya to deal with critical conditions requiring ophthalmic, orthopedic and heart surgery. These high-profile services gave us a good insight into, and understanding of the medical world and the specific requirements of operating in regions lacking an internal medical infrastructure up to high international standards.
At this point, we were approached by various private sector entities in Libya, primarily those in the oil and gas sector. They required medical emergency, life support and occupational health assistance not only in clinics in the cities but also in remote locations. Libya is as vast country and presented immense challenges; you could say we cut our teeth there. It provided Medilink with a firm foundation and solid experience in delivering medical assistance to remote and extreme environments.
What early challenges did Medilink face?
We learned very early on that we were offering remote medical services; a unique branch of medicine. Today, it’s a term that is well understood. However, back in our early years in Libya, we were pioneering this type of medical service assistance. Our immediate challenge lay in finding and training not only specialist medics, but also those able to cope with serious trauma cases in extreme, remote regions.
Medilink created its own in-house training capabilities in those early days. You could say we were leading the way in developing and delivering remote medical training. It has since become one of our core activities offering accredited, internationally-approved programmes through our subsidiary the Institute of Health & Safety (IHS).
In your view, what edge does Medilink offer in the competitive sector of remote medical services
A definite strength of Medilink is our ability of offer truly bespoke solutions. The only aspect that is standardised in our operations, and is non negotiable, is our adherence to the highest quality of international service delivery.
Our solutions are tailor made to our clients’ needs. Today, with clients’ budgets ever more constrained, dependent on the ebb and flow of world oil and other commodities’ prices, we have to run a lean operation. Tailor-made solutions, contrary to what many believe, actually aid us in doing that. We can trim superfluous services and focus our resources on those that are really needed. We offer continuous value to clients by not offering a single, one-size-fits-all approach.
Another area I feel Medilink has a clear advantage is in the way we select and manage our teams. We have an extremely close knit, professional team of individuals passionate about their job and our clients. They are totally focused and respond in real time with a clear understanding of clients’ specific needs. Our investment in our people, in terms of developing our own training arm, has proven its worth over the past 20 plus years.
This leads me on to our advocacy for clinical governance. As a medical organisation, even if operating along commercial lines, we make a clear distinction between clinical and non-clinical decisions. Strong clinical governance is part of our DNA. Led by our Chief Medical Officer, we have a strong clinical governance culture, and challenge ourselves continually, both internally and in line with peer group standards, to ensure we remain at the top of our industry.
Explain how Medilink offers its Services worldwide
Our clients expect the same level of service whether they are operating in the desert in North Africa or elsewhere in the world. At Medilink, we deliver consistent, guaranteed, high levels of service. This aspect of our business is never compromised.
Of course, each territory is unique so we ensure we understand the specific exigencies of different locations in minute detail to guarantee our service promise irrespective of geographic region. We need to operate within local legislation, such as employment law, and are sensitive to different cultures.
For this purpose, we select trusted local partners on the ground. We have built up a large network of third-party partners and suppliers who understand the Medilink culture and work with us and our clients with integrity.
Give us some insights into Medilink’s plans for Expansion in the coming year?
We took an early decision, in contrast to other players in our industry, to grow organically, reinvesting profits to fuel the growth of the company. We always wanted to ensure we had a solid structure and viable model first.
Having proved our worth, we found clients were requesting our services beyond our immediate territories. Away from our traditional field of operations in North Africa – in Algeria, Libya and lately Egypt – Medilink has been developing its operations in East Africa. We are engaged now in Tanzania, Mozambique and Kenya; all of which have proved very interesting countries for us. We see this foothold in Africa continuing with the likelihood of running subsidiaries in those countries, as well as furthering our expansion in West Africa.
In addition, we are carrying out regular assignments in other regions experiencing fast development, such as South East Asia and the Caribbean. What is important is that we know we can operate wherever our clients request our services. We are mobile and transportable. The trust clients have given us over the years had allowed us to develop. Our services are constantly enhanced to the point where we now have a mix of products that we can easily deploy to many parts of the world. This coming year will see us undertake substantial development and at a far greater pace than in the past.
Give us some examples of where Medilink is developing new services or products?
We have always been at the forefront in using technology to deliver medical services but now the pace of our investment in technology is racing ahead. We are developing not only more advanced telemedicine services for topside and emergency alarm facilities, but also employing technology to create demanding and sophisticated online training. If, for example, drone technology proves safe and adaptable for our medical services’ needs, you can be sure we’ll be investing in trialing it. Technology is very much at the heart of current plans.
Another area to mention in our expansion plans is our air ambulance medevac service. We are expanding both our fixed wing and rotar-wing craft for offshore medevac through our fully-licensed, joint venture aviation company.
Our position is to ensure we have full control of as many of our core activities as possible and this principle will guide us in the coming year.
And a final word
As Medilink International CEO, I would like to wrap up this interview with my final word going to the team. Their total, unswerving commitment has allowed Medilink to be where it is today as an industry force to reckon with.