Telstra Case Study: Business Agility – The Royal Flying Doctor Service (RFDS) – Network

The Royal Flying Doctor Service has provided
the finest medical care and emergency evacuations to people in rural and remote locations for
over 85 years. It’s hard to imagine Australia without the Flying Doctor. But the RFDS only
happened through the determination of one man the Reverend John Flynn.
Flynn realised that those people bold enough to work and explore the harshness of our great
land were entitled to healthcare the same as anybody else. When Flynn had the concept
communication was at the forefront of his mind. A not-for-profit organisation relying on community
donations, the RFDS makes over 250,000 patient contacts every year, and it now does much
more than John Flynn ever imagined. We’ve evolved to provide GP clinics to remote
communities. We also conduct community health nursing, Aboriginal health workers, mental
health workers, and a whole range of rehabilitation programs. It’s important for us that we’re doing everything
we can the best way that we can. We’re basically looking to use technology to drive efficiencies
within the organisation. The RFDS serves Australia from 21 aeromedical
bases. The Central Operations Section covers South
Australia and the southern part of the Northern Territory. Its communications hub is in Port
Augusta at the Operations Control Centre. As the Royal Flying Doctor Service is a 24/7
operation, it’s critical that we have reliable and redundant network connections at all of
our key operational sites. The Telstra Next IP network gives us that failover by combining
incoming fibre connections with a Next G backup. We’ll receive a call from someone requiring
assistance. We’ll then patch that phone call through to an on-call doctor, who will make
a decision whether they can treat the issue over the telephone, or whether an aircraft
is needed to go out and evacuate the patient. Since John Flynn worked with his communications
engineer, Alf Traeger, reliable communication has been vital to the RFDS. But their ICT
must also deliver a rapid response. When a call comes into our Operation Control
Centre, it comes through the Telstra IP telephony platform and then through our Telstra managed
WAN connection. They use the Whispir platform to message the crews. Whispir allows us to ensure that the crew
has received and acknowledged their activation, which can save a substantial amount of time. Our crews are able to synchronise manuals,
etcetera that they require for reference in-flight using our wireless network so they always
have the most up-to-date and relevant copy. The RFDS was born from the emerging technologies
of flight and electronic communication. Today, it works with Telstra to be at the forefront
of what’s possible in telehealth. Telstra is a value partner to the RFDS. The
coverage that they have in rural Australia isn’t matched by any of the other providers,
and the network connection and management that they’re able to provide to us is one
of the key aspects of our network. Telstra and the RFDS are almost the same as
Flynn and Traeger. We’ve been together over the journey. We’re delighted to say we look
forward to continuing to build in consultation with Telstra.

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