Interview: Claudia Schmiedhuber on EURAMI's future
Michelle Royle speaks to Claudia Schmiedhuber, Managing Director of EURAMI, about their latest launch, recent lessons for the organisation, and how to make it in the industry
You have been with EURAMI since 2018 – looking back on the last five years, what are the greatest challenges and successes so far? What are you most proud of?
Wow, time really does fly – five years already. There are many amazing accomplishments we have achieved over that time, however a few that stand out are the launch of the Fixed Wing Air Ambulance 6.0. standards; the incorporation of the EURAMI Corporate Membership; the recognition that EURAMI received from organisations such as the United Nations (UN); the implementation of the virtual audit during the pandemic; the new EURAMI Audit Software; the website redesign; our marketing and conference presence and the growth we have experienced in our membership. We have also had a massive interest and numerous applications from aeromedical providers recognising the importance of accreditation and wanting to become affiliated with the high standards of EURAMI.
Equally importantly, there have been many challenges on the way – which have been lessons for myself as well as the organisation. I think it is important to recognise that things do not always go smoothly, mistakes happen, and improvement and success do not manifest in one day. It is a constant effort to get EURAMI to the best place we can, and I think we are definitely moving in the right direction. What I am very proud of is that we take responsibility for the things that are not as smooth as they should be and that we acknowledge our areas for improvement.
We also come out of challenging times that EURAMI had to quickly adjust to – new situations without the option to travel and do on-site audits – something that has never been done in the organisation’s history. So the digitalisation of an organisation, that had very limited digital structure to begin with, was definitely something that caused me one or two sleepless nights. However, looking back now, the pandemic definitely sped up the process that has now led to EURAMI’s audits being fully scored in our in-house web-based software, so a massive step forward. I have an excellent Board to work with – all members being dedicated to taking EURAMI to the next level and assuring that quality, transparency and having our providers’ best interests in mind are always at the forefront of what we do.
Personally, the biggest challenge was to grow as a leader and take on all the responsibility that comes with my role as a Managing Director. It has certainly not always been easy and there were a lot of important lessons to be learned, but I am very proud of where we are as an organisation and myself as a person. Most importantly, I am beyond happy that our members are satisfied with what we do and how we represent them on an international scale – after all, they are the foundation and heart of EURAMI.
EURAMI has recently launched the new Fixed Wing Air Ambulance v.6.0. Standards, why was that necessary and what should providers and clients look out for?
It was definitely a big step forward for EURAMI and quite necessary at this point, as the last version did not capture the latest developments in the aero-medical and global healthcare industry, thus it was imminent that we incorporate and address these. Coming out of the pandemic a lot of important questions were raised by members and assistance companies that we felt needed to be included in a set of Fixed Wing Standards. The 6.0. version addressed topics such as mental health transports, environmental awareness, infectious disease, agent transports and data security, just to name a few.
EURAMI has undergone a lot of progress over the last five years, and I think we are on a very good path towards becoming more and more of an asset and guide to not only the aeromedical provider we accredit, but also to the assistance, insurance and healthcare industry. Collaborating on the latest standards with a committee composed of experts in those fields has definitely led to a very rounded set of standards with new endorsements reflecting the many amazing capabilities our providers have.
The next step for us is the creation of the Commercial Airline Medical Escort Standards 2.0. that we have already kicked off under our Head of Standards Dr Simon Forrington. Just like with the Fixed Wing Standards, we have assembled an amazing committee of experts who will help develop a new set of standards for the transport of patients on commercial flights, an area where we have seen lot of growth and development lately. So, another very exciting and for sure very busy year for EURAMI
For the first time ever, EURAMI has opened its membership for Corporate Members. What made you do that?
We have been talking about this since I started with EURAMI in 2018, as I always felt there was a gap and a lot of misunderstanding between providers and payers, which seemed to happen on a regular basis, leading to dissatisfaction on both sides. The idea behind the Corporate Membership is for assistance, insurance, risk management, ground ambulance, hospitals and other related companies to join EURAMI to actively get involved in shaping the standards for aeromedical transportation, interact with their providers in a more intimate and informed way and to be able to openly address and discuss issues to ensure an even better patient care.
So far, we have done a soft launch and haven’t actively pursued it too much, however it is one of our big goals for the next five years to get key players in the healthcare community involved in EURAMI. We definitely would love to have their experience and expertise when it comes to working with aeromedical partners and I know that our providers appreciate an open dialogue and the opportunity to work closer together with their clients. So, it is really an effort to bring our industry together on one table, initiate communication and exchange and improve our patient’s journey with us, from the first call at their insurance to touching down in their home country with one of our providers.
You wear many hats – being the Managing Director of EURAMI but also having your own marketing/PR, consulting and business concept companies. What are the challenges of being a female entrepreneur in the global healthcare industry and what advice would you give young women wanting to follow the same path?
Haha, where to start? Well, first of all – I actually love wearing many hats as it allows for me to enact all of my passions. Shortly before taking on the role as Managing Director at EURAMI, I started my first company, Alpine Health Consulting, which focuses on helping companies grow, develop and establish as a market leader. I still help companies with that and I love seeing them live up to their full potential. Dare It Concept Solutions was my second company, focusing on developing new business and products for our industry as well as creating tailored services such as virtual reality experiences and training elements. My last company, Dare It Marketing Solutions, was founded in 2021 and is really the first specialised marketing agency for the global healthcare and aeromedical industry. Having worked in this industry for more than 10 years, I often saw very generic ads, content writing that you could tell was not done by someone aware of the language and processes of our industry, and websites that just highlighted the wrong qualities. So I decided to use my wealth of knowledge to help companies really stand out with their marketing, branding, web presence and content creation. I love being creative and working with my clients to make them shine.
The last five years since I started my first company have been quite a rollercoaster ride. It was definitely very scary and intimidating at times, especially leaving my leadership role at an air ambulance to start something new without knowing if it would work out. However, I would not want to change a thing. Despite many sleepless nights, hundreds of pages of business plans and miscalculations, I love being an entrepreneur and being a woman. Sure, sometimes you get laughed at, sometimes people don’t take you and your aspirations seriously and sometimes doors get shut in your face, but pushing through those challenges is definitely worth it as there is nothing that compares to seeing your vision come to life and succeed, something I was lucky enough to experience quite a few times now.
So, my advice for entrepreneurs – and especially women – would be: dream it, dare it, do it. There is a reason why I named my companies ‘Dare it,’ as it has been my motto for a long time. Jump into that cold water and see where it takes you – you will be surprised how many supporters you meet along the way and what that journey teaches you. It won’t always be rainbows and unicorns; however, our industry is a very welcoming one if you are authentic, humble and know what you are made of. I am privileged to be able to do what I love every day, shaping my own future and making sure that whatever happens, I never regret not trying. After all, what’s the worst that can happen?