Sky’s no limit for Royal Flying Doctor Service with SAS®

Doctors are equipped to deal with most medical crises, but when their emergency vehicle is an aircraft and their patients are located hundreds of kilometres away, being able to reach them quickly relies on effective and accurate systems.

A major contributor to the confidence we now have around our data has been the use of SAS and how it has enabled our small analytics team to make a big impact in the organisation.

Adrian Bennett
Information and Technology Manager at RFDS Western Operations

Not-for-profit aeromedical organisation, The Royal Flying Doctor Service (RFDS) depends on efficient operations to deliver primary health care and 24-hour emergency services to the thousands who live, work and travel throughout remote Australia.

One of its seven divisions, RFDS Western Operations, transported 8600 patients in 2013 and its practitioners provided over 11,500 patient consultations.

Adrian Bennett, Information and Technology Manager at RFDS Western Operations said they are viewing data as strategically important to ensuring overall efficiency in the organisation.

“We’re focusing more on making decisions that are backed up by data,” he said. “A major contributor to the confidence we now have around our data has been the use of SAS and how it has enabled our small analytics team to make a big impact in the organisation.”

Time savings for patients

RFDS uses SAS to answer major questions such as where investment is needed most for different types of equipment, how the types of incidents have changed over time and the frequency patterns for urgent and non-urgent incidents.

“One of the most impressive results we’ve seen is reducing response times for patients,” says Bennett.

“Using analytics we have been able to break down the process into stages and identify what factors could be changed to drive improvements. This could be the time it takes to assess a patient, task a crew, prepare a flight and travel to the patient,” says Bennett. “What we found was a need to optimise crew scheduling, and as a result of better shift allocation we were able to reduce our tasking time from 5.5 hours to just 2.5 hours for 90 percent of our priority 2 patients.

“These three hours could mean all the difference in those circumstances that are life-threatening.”

Flying into the data-driven future

With a strong background in analytics and information, Bennett’s appointment to RFDS in early 2014 was a key part of the management team’s vision to better harness data as a strategic asset.

“When I speak with management, I stress the importance of the value we can drive from data and the need to shift from the IT department being viewed as one that just delivers technology to one that provides services that support the organisation,” Bennett says. “This is something the IT team has done very well, but we need to expand it further.”

He says recognition by senior management of the importance of data-driven decisions in areas such as meeting performance targets is lifting the IT department’s profile.

Bennett is hoping to get the organisation to the point where all decisions are based on data and assumptions are eliminated where possible.

“This will help us understand the connections between different data points and how they relate to the way we perform as an organisation,” he says. “SAS is vital in helping us along this data-driven journey and in supporting our strategies and goals.”

Australia's Royal Flying Doctor Service


As a not-for-profit, RFDS needs to ensure all resources are used as efficiently as possible, especially when time is a critical factor in getting their services to patients.


SAS® Enterprise Guide


More informed decision-making backed by data. One example saw a reduction of tasking time from 5.5 hours to just 2.5 hours.

Download PDF

The results illustrated in this article are specific to the particular situations, business models, data input, and computing environments described herein. Each SAS customer’s experience is unique based on business and technical variables and all statements must be considered non-typical. Actual savings, results, and performance characteristics will vary depending on individual customer configurations and conditions. SAS does not guarantee or represent that every customer will achieve similar results. The only warranties for SAS products and services are those that are set forth in the express warranty statements in the written agreement for such products and services. Nothing herein should be construed as constituting an additional warranty. Customers have shared their successes with SAS as part of an agreed-upon contractual exchange or project success summarization following a successful implementation of SAS software. Brand and product names are trademarks of their respective companies.

Back to Top