Royal Flying Doctor Service

We were engaged by the Queensland division of the Royal Flying Doctor Service (RFDS) to digitise their Aeromedical Transfer Record process.  

The Client

Australia’s Royal Flying Doctor Service (RFDS) provides 24/7 aeromedical services to rural Australians and has done so for the past 90 years. Their services include land-based patient transport, inter-hospital patient transfer, and telehealth consultations. Each day, RFDS transports nearly 200 patients and facilitates over 250 telehealth consultations. With over 1200 employees and 23 bases Australia-wide, RFDS is now one of the largest and most comprehensive aeromedical organisations in the world.


After decades of successful operation and refinement, RFDS’ processes are mature, replicable, and reliable. However, there are aspects of the organisation’s internal operations that are ripe for digital transformation. This is exemplified by the organisation’s Aeromedical Transfer Record (ATR).

The ATR, an A3-sized paper-based record, is the RFDS clinical staff’s primary method for tracking patient health during transit. Containing a complete overview of the patient’s past medical history, current condition, complications encountered during transportation, and recommendations for further medical action, it enables a seamless knowledge transfer between RFDS and the Queensland Ambulance Service (QAS) upon the patient’s arrival at their destination medical facility.

The Problem

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While the ATR sufficiently served its purpose, there was still huge room for improvement.

This paper-based record keeping resulted in a 30% error rate. Administration staff would have to spend 30-40 hours a week completing data entry at each base — an egregious waste of time in the digital age.  

The Process


The primary objective of the digital solution was to streamline the data collection and transfer processes employed by RFDS. It was also critical that the integration of the final product would not negatively impact on the clinical staff’s ability to accomplish their mission.

In order to ensure the solution was perfectly customised to support and enhance RFDS operations, we conducted a series of face-to-face workshops with RFDS clinical, managerial, and operational staff. These workshops allowed us to develop an intimate understanding of the internal processes and regulations that governed the actions of the clinical staff in-flight —insight that would be vital in developing an intuitive and loved application that could be seamlessly integrated into RFDS’ existing processes.

Armed with this insight, we broke down the larger objective into small, specific use cases in close alignment with their existing practices and began designing the solution.


We began by forming an internal squad tasked with the design and implementation of HALO. The squad began working in short design-focused sprints to produce multiple alternative solution wireframes for each uncovered use case.

These wireframes were then presented back to the users, where feedback was obtained and each solution was iterated upon and consolidated into a high-fidelity, interactive prototype. Each validated, user-accepted prototype was then split into small development tasks, ready to be built by the squad.


The build phase involves the squad taking the validated solution prototypes and employing an agile, scrum-based development approach to execute the vision. The product manager within the squad works closely with the designers and engineers to estimate the complexity and plan the technical architecture of each task required to achieve the goal.

Throughout the build process, we met with the same users to demonstrate the state of the app roughly every 4 weeks. Following an agile framework simplified the feedback process, as each sprint could be adjusted to allow for course correction and small changes to be implemented with minimal impact on the overall project delivery.

Outside of workshops, feedback was captured throughout the project lifecycle using our own app, Synapse.

The Solution

We designed and implement a digital solution dubbed 'HALO' capable of tracking patient’s in-flight medical data for use by RDFS during their daily operations. The solution consisted of an iOS app and a web platform.

HALO for iPad was developed with Apple’s native language Swift. Swift is the language of choice for native iOS apps.

The HALO Portal was developed using Vue.js and PHP Laravel, utilising Amazon EC2 and Amazon RDS for server and database respectively.


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