International Association for Medical Assistance to Travellers (IAMAT): Feasibility Study for a New Direction

Endeavour engaged with the International Association for Medical Assistance to Travellers (IAMAT), a non-profit organization focused on travel health, to assess the feasibility of IAMAT’s plan to transform into a grant-making organization from an education and service organization. Through market research and capability assessment, Endeavour provided insights that helped IAMAT decide to continue offering education and services while also expanding its grant-making capabilities through following Endeavour’s strategic and tactical recommendations of streamlining operations and increasing efficiency.

About the Client

Founded in 1960 by Dr. Vincenzo Marcolongo, International Association for Medical Assistance to Travellers (IAMAT) is a non-profit organization focused on travel health. The organization helps travellers plan a healthy trip, and connects them to an international network of qualified medical professionals should the need arise while they are travelling.

Over the years, IAMAT has developed its capabilities and provides three distinct services:


“It was refreshing to work with an enthusiastic and knowledgeable team who genuinely wanted to find solutions to our challenge”

Tullia Marcolongo, Director of Programs and Development, IAMAT

  1. Public Travel Health Education: IAMAT provides comprehensive travel health resources for pre-trip preparation, such as immunization recommendations, health risk information, and food and water precautions for all countries.
  2. Travel Medical Services: IAMAT coordinates an international network of certified doctors who are committed to helping travelers in over 105 countries. IAMAT’s members are eligible for fixed-cost consultation and other benefits while travelling
  3. Travel Medicine Training: IAMAT currently awards scholarships to doctors and nurses from developing countries to study and train in travel medicine. The program has three components: Visiting Scholars Fund, Travel Medicine Certification Grants and Lectureship Grants.

The Project

An Endeavour consulting team was brought in to assess the feasibility of transforming IAMAT into a grant-making foundation that offers scholarships for travel medicine training.

The Need

IAMAT

Endeavour consulting team with IAMAT client

In recent years, changes in market landscape had led to increased competition and financial instability, challenging IAMAT’s relevancy. As a result, IAMAT was grappling with the following issues:

  • IAMAT’s position in the field of travel medicine, and how to maintain and increase its donor base
  • Increased threat from governments, credit card and travel insurance companies
  • Consideration of the quality of IAMAT’s travel health services compared to competitors who also offer readily accessible travel information
  • Sustainability of continuing to provide travel health materials free of charge
  • Lack of a defined succession plan

When IAMAT got in touch with Endeavour, it was at the crossroads of whether or not to transform from an education/service organization to a grant-making foundation. IAMAT engaged Endeavour to develop a feasibility study to determine if a transformation is appropriate, based on its position in the field of travel medicine, its current programs, and operational model.

The Work


“I’ve always believed that consulting is a skill not taught in the classroom. Working with Endeavour reaffirmed that belief and it was a great experience working with a team of likeminded and diverse group of individuals to deliver a high quality solution to our client.

In 2010, I was on the team working for the International Association for Medical Assistance to Travellers, or IAMAT for short. They are an international non-profit that has been operating for more than 50 years. A lot can change in 50 years and as they have learned, changes in the community as well as the industry inevitably drives changes in their organization. Endeavour was brought on board to map out the direction for that change to keep IAMAT competitive and ensure their long term sustainability.

By learning quickly about the financial fundamentals about our client and their industry, identifying their unique services, and streamlining the board of director’s input to our proposal, I was able to form the critical link between our analysis and the client’s needs. As a PhD student in the life sciences with no formal business training, this was a fantastic training experience that made an impact for a respected non-profit organization.”

Haydn Liang,
PhD Candidate,
University of Toronto

The Endeavour consulting team researched, examined, and analyzed several areas, including: financial sustainability, internal factors, market factors, overall risk, and programs. The team started by breaking their work into three components, as outlined below.

1 – Market Research

The market research component involved the following:

  • Analysis of the competitive landscape on a two-fold basis (other grant-making foundations in travel medicine, other foundations in travel medicine with similar operational models as IAMAT)
  • Investigation of the customer/market demand for grant-making foundations in travel medicine, institutions with medicine programs and other programs supporting the education of travel medicine

2 – Assessment of IAMAT Capabilities

The Endeavour consulting team determined the strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and risks of IAMAT, including assessing its financial, HR, operational, technical and marketing capacities.

3 – Development of Analytical Framework and Evaluation of Options

The Endeavour team developed a success matrix in consultation with IAMAT staff and stakeholders to assess areas of priority and ideas going forward. To develop the matrix, the Endeavour team designed a survey of operational and strategic factors for the IAMAT board and staff. Feedback from the survey was used to create an analytical framework, which was reviewed with the board and staff in advance of the team conducting the analysis.

Four options for IAMAT were generated:

  1. Status Quo;
  2. Complete Transformation – grant-making;
  3. Hybrid A – priority to grants; and
  4. Hybrid B – optimization.

A ranking and weighting system was developed to evaluate the benefits, costs and risks of each option, including the alignment of the new direction against IAMAT’s vision, mission and goals.

The Recommendation

Endeavour recommended that IAMAT should not transform into solely a grant-making foundation. Instead, the Endeavour consulting team recommended IAMAT to adopt Hybrid B – optimize current operations – which involved:

  • Operating all three current programs at improved efficiency
  • Implementing cost reduction measures
  • Expanding the grant/scholarship programs
  • Maintaining the Medical Directory and Health Education Services

In addition, the Endeavour consulting team recommended the following to address IAMAT’s needs:

Competition and Relevancy:

  • Scale back on redundant travel health information provided by competitors
  • Focus on specialized travel health information (e.g. traveling with children)
  • Expand medical directory to strengthen market position through local node clinics
  • Reallocate resources towards scholarships and grants to support 10 scholars per year

Financial Sustainability:

  • Eliminate free printed copies of materials for members
  • Utilize volunteer HR for non-core labour-intensive operations (e.g. update website and social media)
  • Reduce travel expenses by establishing local node clinics for on-site management for medical directory
  • Secure current revenue source by providing existing members with value-added information (e.g. on-the-ground information from clinics)

To help IAMAT get started on optimizing its operations, the Endeavour team put together recommendations for implementation to achieve short, intermediate and long-term goals. Endeavour also recommended IAMAT to make refinements to the options based on IAMAT’s own experience and operation know-how.

The Impact

As an outcome of the consulting engagement with Endeavour, IAMAT did not transform into a grant-making foundation. Tullia Marcolongo, IAMAT’s Director of Programs and Development who worked closely with the Endeavour team, saw that the biggest impact of the consulting engagement with Endeavour was that it provided the organization with a new strategic planning framework. IAMAT felt that it was the right time to get an “outsider” perspective – from someone not in the field.

About a year after the consulting engagement, IAMAT has already implemented some of Endeavour’s recommendations, including launching a member survey and trying to secure student interns and volunteers. IAMAT is working on implementing additional recommendations from the engagement, such as looking at its key “node clinics” within its international network. The international organization will apply this methodology to other IAMAT clinics around the world. IAMAT is also assessing possibilities for reducing mailing printed materials, including considering a small shipping and handling fee for printed materials to encourage more online use.

In the near future, IAMAT will go through a strategic planning and re-branding process. It will use information from the final Endeavour consulting report as an input for the planning session, including the analysis of the competitive landscape and market players. In addition, the Endeavour report is given to new board members to introduce them to IAMAT and give them a general overview of the organization.


 


“Endeavour’s work has been positive. The Board thought it was a good starting point to determine the future direction of the organization. It helped to map IAMAT’s position in the field of travel medicine and suggested that IAMAT should consolidate the evaluation of current activities in the near future before considering transforming the organization. The engagement gave us new ideas on how to streamline programs to better serve our donors and member doctors. It was a good exercise for IAMAT to take stock of our work and to come up with realistic and effective solutions. It was refreshing to work with an enthusiastic and knowledgeable team who genuinely wanted to find solutions to our challenge.”

Tullia Marcolongo, Director of Programs and Development, IAMAT

 

The Consulting Team

The Endeavour team working on the IAMAT consulting engagement was made up of professionals and graduate students from various industries. The advisor for the project was Gail Severini, who draws from 20 years of experience implementing strategic change.

Project Advisor

Gail Severini, Principal and Co-Founder, Symphini Change Management Inc.

Engagement Manager

Wesley Walsh, MA
Corporate Communications & Issues Management Consultant, Ministry of Health & Long-Term Care

Consultants

Sandra Li, International MBA Graduate
Haydn Liang, BSc, PhD Candidate, University of Toronto
Amrutansu Mahapatra, BASc in Mechanical Engineering, Ultra Manufacturing
Evelyn Pau, Bachelor of Medical Sciences, PhD Candidate, University of Toronto

Contributing Writers and Editors

Lucie Drabinova, Director, Client Relations, Endeavour
Judith Lau, Director, Evaluation, Endeavour
Haydn Liang, Consultant, Endeavour
Tullia Marcolongo, Director of Programs and Development, IAMAT
Andrea Wong, President, Endeavour

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