A data linkage and patient outcome study of Aeromedical Retrieval Services in Central Queensland.

Grant ID: EMPJ-363R25-2016

Project Summary

Aeromedical services link patients to vital health care. Currently, there is limited understanding of the aeromedical patient journey and outcomes in Queensland. This first-of-its-kind study seeks to take the next step in patient-centered outcomes research and resource allocation planning by linking together existing, but independent emergency department, aeromedical, hospital and deaths databases.

A review of the Queensland aeromedical system, (2010-2014) found there is increasing aeromedical use, with an average of 51 flights/ day (102,892 flights) tasked throughout Queensland; with cardiology cases (20%) most common. Yet, there were limitations. First, aggregated data did not clearly differentiate between inter-hospital transfer, back-transfer, multiple-step or single-step flights. Secondly, identification of frequent flyers was not possible. Finally, illness and injury categories did not include specific ICD coding; prohibiting the development of appropriate Emergency Department services.

This pilot study will link together data sets from EDIS, Death Registrar, QHAPC, and Retrieval Services Queensland. The aims of the study for Central Queensland are to develop linked data infrastructure; create future state-wide study replication; describe aeromedical patient outcomes (including length of stay and mortality); understand aeromedical service requirements for specific illness/ injury, those that require frequent flights, and identify steps within the patient journey.

Linking these databases can enable epidemiological monitoring, surveillance, analytical assessment & prospective modelling of aeromedical populations (Brook 2008), thereby improving patient care coordination. It is expected linking data will create a comprehensive picture of the patient journey, patient outcomes & of the service provided at each step; furthering capacity in understanding the patient experience. Linking aeroretrieval databases will also create a secure and robust infrastructure for future state-wide studies.

A better understanding of the aeromedical patient journey will help to develop appropriate regional health services delivery, in particular emergency departments whom most often the first point-of-service, thus ensuring better health outcomes.


Amount Awarded


Grant Scheme


Principal Investigator:
Dr Mark Edwards

Co Investigators:
Dr Richard Franklin
Dr Peter Aitken
Dr mark Elcock
Mrs Kristin Edwards


Collaborating Institutions

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