As an Australian first, the RFDS are using a new Service Planning and Operational Tool called ‘SPOT’.
SPOT is a custom made software that was developed to assist the RFDS in planning where services should be located, relative to need. This is done by mapping existing services and overlaying these with population data.
Until recently, it has been difficult for the RFDS to assess the relative scale of the need for, and availability of, primary health care services provided by other agencies in remote areas nationwide. Determining where the greatest gaps are, and thus which are the priority locations for additional services, has relied largely on experience on the ground until now.
SPOT has been designed to explore healthcare coverage, or lack thereof, in Remote and Very remote Australia. Working from a geographical distribution of demand for services and a dataset detailing healthcare facilities that supply services, SPOT calculates the proportion of demand covered by those facilities. The tool is interactive, the user specifies the travel time acceptable, the subpopulation of interest, and the practitioner or service type.
The tool has five main functions:
- Quantifying current population coverage and accessibility across current services provided by the RFDS.
- Quantifying current population coverage and accessibility across RFDS and non-RFDS for primary care and acute services provided.
- Projecting future population coverage and accessibility associated with forecast demand projections.
- Demonstrating the impact of changes in RFDS service provision on population coverage and accessibility - both current and future.
- Assisting with future service planning needs by identifying locations where practitioners and facilities be best be place to improve access to healthcare.