01/08/2020 - 16:15

Innovation and where to find it

01/08/2020 - 16:15


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Innovation and where to find it
RFDS WA CEO Rebecca Tomkinson and pilot Lisa Roper-Campbell

Being a small organisation with big responsibilities teaches you a lesson or two about innovation. So does working in the not-for-profit sector.

NGOs are not always where we expect to find cutting edge in innovation and technology, but I encourage you to take a closer look. Those who work in the sector are extraordinarily motivated to keep improving the lives of the people they serve.

The importance of the work they do means NGOs are good at enlisting the help and expertise of others to achieve their goals, which opens doors to new ideas and new technology they might not otherwise have access to.

The old adage that necessity is the mother of invention was never truer than for NGOs, who are seasoned problem-solvers and innovators as an essential means of service delivery.

NGOS like the Royal Flying Doctor Service adapt to change relatively quickly and have a healthy appetite for risk.

For the RFDS, our drive to harness emerging technology and keep innovating is closely linked to our drive to overcome the tyranny of distance in our vast state – the world’s largest medical waiting room – and deliver health equity and peace of mind to people in remote Western Australia.

We do our absolute best to provide excellent care every time we set out to retrieve a patient, on what is often the most vulnerable day of a person’s life.

Our track record includes introducing two first-of-type PC-24 Rio Tinto LifeFlight jets to the RFDS fleet last year, enabling us to fly faster and further when every minute counts. Currently, we are trialing new telehealth technologies to enable doctors to assess patients by video and conduct tests like ECGs and ultrasound from thousands of kilometres away. The RFDS was named WA Tech Company of the Year and became a member of the Hall of Fame at the 2019 INCITE Awards which showcase technology innovation in Western Australia.

Back in 1928 when the RFDS first came into existence as an ‘aerial experiment’, the notion of sending doctors on aircraft into the outback seemed an outlandish concept to many. In retrospect, it was a life- changing innovation that has touched many thousands of people.

At the start of 2020, the RFDS set a new strategic direction that puts us on course to keep advancing in technology and innovation. Along with investing in our people, I consider this our biggest priority.

The global COVID-19 pandemic has also reinforced for me the power of what can be achieved when a team pulls together with a singular purpose. With technology at our fingertips and incredible expertise and passion among our people in the not-for-profit sector, we have much to be excited about for our future.

The rapid pace of change means keeping up with the opportunities presented by new technology is a huge challenge. But if you want to keep a lookout for the early adopters, I encourage you to take a look at a not-for-profit.


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