Automation helps elevate Royal Flying Doctors


RFDS (Royal Flying Doctor Service)


Data & Analytics improvement


Alteryx Snowflake


How do you make one data source for 7 autonomous flight bases? And glean that data from 20 different systems?

The Royal Flying Doctor Service wanted to move to an evidence-based decision-making model to help determine where to allocate $80 million in annual funding.

The Background

The Royal Flying Doctor Service (RFDS) is one of the largest and most comprehensive aeromedical organisations in the world, providing extensive primary health care and 24-hour emergency services to Australians over an area of 7.69 million square kilometres.

The RFDS, its 69 aircraft and 115 healthcare vehicles are staffed by doctors, nurses and dentists who have in excess of 330,000 patient interactions per year.

The organisation, which is made up of six operating companies and a national office, wanted to automate data reporting processes and move to an evidence-based decision-making model within 18 months to help determine where to allocate up to $80 million in annual funding from the federal government.

The Problem

RFDS has a federated company structure, operating as seven autonomous companies across all states and territories of Australia.

A significant challenge was the six operating companies used different data systems. That meant collecting and analysing the flight data, which is used to help provide evidence-based decision-making, had to be done manually from up to twenty different systems which was incredibly time consuming.

Every six months the RFDS collected flight data which is then reported to the Commonwealth Government. To reach this point, an analyst from each of the six operating companies spent up to a week and a half running manual scripts to extract and check the data before it was sent to the RFDS national office. Then a data analyst spent an additional two to three weeks working on just one of the data files, running scripts to cleanse the information and ensuring it was consistent with its reporting format.

In all, the time taken to collect, clean and analyse the data took up to 16 weeks.

The Solution

RFDS approached the RXP Group to explore its challenging data situation and advise on how they could flip the 90% of the time spent on generating, cleaning and formatting the data and just 10% of time analysing it.

Across the RFDS’ six operating companies, RXP implemented Alteryx software which automates data preparation, blending and analytics into the RFDS’ existing systems. The data is then pushed to Snowflake, the only data warehouse built for the cloud and then data visualisation software tool Tableau transforms the information into interactive dashboards.

The Results

From taking up to 16 weeks to wrangle the data, the solution implemented by RXP allows the RFDS to perform the same function in less than 30 minutes, with the possibility of human error now all but eliminated.

The new solution has enabled the RFDS to:

  • Spend more time on analysing data and producing dashboards to make more informed business and funding decisions based on robust data
  • Provide funders with greater transparency on operational performance so they can make clearer funding decisions
  • Improve the capability for future research projects into the health and well-being of people living in rural and remote Australia.
  • Start moving towards an evidence based decision making model
  • Provide the Commonwealth Government with access to reliable, meaningful and accurate reporting using dashboards.
  • Reinvest savings made from reducing data wrangling into further service provision

The Future

After securing additional funding to provide dental and mental health services the RFDS plans to roll out the technology stack to further automate its data reporting.

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