International Association for Medical Assistance to Travellers (IAMAT)
Exploring Options for the Future of an Association Dedicated to Protecting the Wellbeing of Travellers
To change or not to change? This was the big question.
Should the International Association for Medical Assistance to Travellers (IAMAT) remain a non-profit dedicated to making the world a healthier place to travel? Or should the organization transform into a grant-making foundation?
IAMAT has been protecting the wellbeing of global travellers since 1960 when founder Dr. Marcolongo, who was visiting Rome, assisted a young Canadian woman who became very ill after being prescribed an inappropriate medication by a local non-English-speaking doctor.
With international travel growing, Dr. Marcolongo realized there was an urgent need for collaboration among medical practitioners around the world to assist travellers. He began coordinating the services of hundreds of doctors of all nationalities trained according to international health standards – and IAMAT was born.
More recently, the association was facing escalating competition and financial instability. The board of directors began questioning whether IAMAT’s mission was still relevant. Should the association continue providing travellers with pre-trip health information and access to a worldwide network of English-speaking doctors as well as awarding travel medicine scholarships to enhance medical standards in clinics and hospitals abroad?
IAMAT President Assunta Uffer-Marcolongo sought out Endeavour to help answer this fundamental question.IAMAT President Assunta Uffer-Marcolongo sought out Endeavour to help answer this fundamental question.
“This was a good exercise for IAMAT to take stock of our work and come up with a realistic and effective solution.”
Underscoring the pressing nature of the question, the association was grappling with several issues: an uncertain donor base, growing competition and the feasibility of continuing to provide materials free of charge.
The Endeavour team took a multi-phase approach to the challenge. Team members consulted with IAMAT staff and stakeholders to assess priorities; conducted market research to analyze the competitive landscape and investigate demand for grant-making foundations in travel medicine; assessed the association’s capabilities in finance, operations, human resources and marketing; and explored optional strategies.
The team subsequently created an analytical framework for the four most feasible options: maintain the status quo, convert to a grant-making foundation, prioritize grants or optimize operations.
“Endeavour’s work helped to map IAMAT’s position in the field of travel medicine and suggested consolidating the evaluation of current activities before considering transforming the organization.”
After a thorough evaluation of the benefits, costs and risks, Endeavour recommended optimizing current operations prior to embarking on any major shift of IAMAT’s mission. Endeavour also set out a number of strategies related to competition, relevancy and financial sustainability to support the success of this option.
Based on Endeavour’s recommendations, the association decided not to remodel its mission until after undertaking a strategic planning exercise. Meanwhile, IAMAT has implemented some of Endeavour’s short-term recommendations. These include a survey of members, recruiting student interns and volunteers for non-core tasks and establishing local clinics for on-site medical directory management.
For IAMAT the most significant impact of this consulting engagement was acquiring a solid foundation for a strategic planning framework. Endeavour’s findings and recommendations will play an integral role as the International Association for Medical Assistance to Travellers (IAMAT) revisits its role to ensure the wellbeing of future world travellers.
“The engagement gave us new ideas on how to streamline programs to better serve our donors and member doctors.”