starlink satellite

Graphic: starlink satellite

RFDS trialling leading satellite system in outback Queensland

Date published

22 Dec 2022

The first of three new permanent Starlink connections has been installed at the Urandangi Health Clinic, aiming to boost connectivity and efficiency for the remote workforce.

The RFDS (Queensland Section) Digital Infrastructure Program Manager Adam Carey said the satellite service is an extension to RFDS’ world-class wide area network and would allow the organisation to extend coverage for crews delivering healthcare services in the furthest corners of Queensland.

“Many of the locations where RFDS provides GP, nursing, mental health and dental services have no or limited internet or telecommunications coverage, so teams often need to work offline,” Mr Carey said.

“After extensive research and testing, Starlink, which has only recently extended its coverage across parts of outback Queensland, has been identified as the best solution due to its extremely high performance compared to traditional technology.

“The first permanent device has this month successfully been installed on the roof of the Urandangi Health Clinic which is serviced by our Mount Isa-based crew.”

RFDS Mount Isa Medical Lead Doctor Deidre Stark said the new connection would help improve efficiencies for the GP, nurse, and mental health clinician who visit the community.

“From having live access to our patient record system, to improving access to remote printing for scripts, a fast and reliable connection will ultimately free up time for clinicians and help us to provide even better care for our patients,” Dr Stark said.

Queensland Health Rural and Remote Chief Information Officer Helen Murray said the Department of Health and North West Hospital and Health Service were supportive of the initiative at the North West HHS-operated health clinic at Urandangi.

“We look forward to the improvement in connectivity this initiative will provide to visiting clinicians such as those from our partners the Royal Flying Doctor Service,’’ Ms Murray said.

Mr Carey said the installation in Urandangi was a milestone moment for the organisation.

“Innovation has always been at the heart of the Flying Doctor and it’s incredibly exciting to have connectivity options we have never had before,” he said.

“We’ll be closely monitoring this trial as we progress approvals for additional installations at Yowah and Greenvale clinics, with the hope of rolling out the system at RFDS clinic locations state-wide in the coming months.

“We’re also looking into the use of Starlink for remote-locality patient transfer facilities and the RFDS Dental Service, which travels to rural and remote towns to provide dental care.”