Remote consultations - often referred to as 'tele-health consultations' form the core of RFDS services. These are the calls that come into an RFDS base from individuals or health workers, in rural and remote areas, who require medical assistance or advice from an RFDS doctor.
The RFDS performed 92,776 telehealth consultations in 2014/2015.
Front line of help
The remote consultation can be a precursor to other RFDS activities. For example, the aeromedical evacuations (for which the RFDS is most well known) are only conducted when a patient requires urgent, acute or critical care -- or when a remote consultation isn't possible.
The large majority of remote consultations are conducted over the phone, using satellite and mobile phones. We also regularly use email, fax, or video calls to assist diagnosis.
Graphic: medical chest
As part of the telehealth line, the RFDS has established medical chests around Australia containing a range of pharmaceutical and non-pharmaceutical items, which enable emergency and non-emergency treatment to be given to people living and working in remote areas.
The RFDS medical chests are an important tool to enable RFDS medical practitioners to treat people on-site for many conditions and to provide necessary treatment (e.g. pain relief) for those requiring emergency evacuation. They are peace of mind to those living in the most remote parts of the Australian outback.
The medical chest has evolved over many years to cover a number of medical conditions that would be difficult for people living and working in remote areas to treat. As such, it contains a large number of "prescription only" pharmaceutical items. It is a condition for the provision of the chest that these drugs be used only on the advice of a registered RFDS doctor.
Across Australia, the RFDS is responsible for over 3,000 medical chests located in remote locations across Australia, including parks, police stations, remote homesteads, pastoral stations, hotels, roadhouses, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities, outback schools and mining exploration sites. The contents of the chest are reviewed regularly at a national level to ensure relevancy and currency of pharmaceuticals.
QLD Tele-health and medical chest
RFDS Medical Officers provide a 24 hour medical consultation service via telephone and radio transmission.Read more
Telehealth & Medical Chests SA/NT
Radio and telephone medical consultations with a Doctor or Remote Area Nurse for isolated patients. A rostered, on-call doctor is available to take calls 24/7. We also administer Medical Chests to more than 155 remote communities and stations throughout South Australia.Read more
Remote consultation service in NSW/ACT
We provide medical advice by phone all year round. Our staff prescribe medical treatment, identify further care and give first aid advice in an emergency.Read more
Flying Doctor Telehealth services in VIC
The Flying Doctor Telehealth service connects patients in rural Victorian communities with specialists in Melbourne.Read more
Telehealth in WA
RFDS practitioners provide 24 hour a day telephone based medical consultation services to those living, working and travelling in remote and rural Western Australia.Read more