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Communication in the age of innovation

Cath Beavis
Retrieval Services QLD , Brisbane, Australia



Cath has worked as a nurse and midwife for nearly 20 years, in Brisbane and rural and remote Qld. She has worked at RSQ since 2013, and held the role of Patient Safety Officer since January, 2017.



Effective, reliable and safe communication is a foundation of patient safety. Time and again, ‘communication breakdown’ is highlighted in many an RCA. This project reviewed the culture of internal communication, in relation to patient safety, within a rapidly – growing and evolving aeromedical hub.Retrieval Services Queensland is the centralised aeromedical hub for Queensland. Despite communication being the critical feature of the organisation, the internal and external communication pathways were not formally developed. The main reasons for this is: rapid expansion; few management staff responsible for many aspects of the service and a developing Quality and Patient Safety framework. With the implementation of the electronic medical record system, “Brolga”, communication pathway development was a key feature of Brolga’s potential success. Current literature reiterates the improvement of organisational culture in the delivery of safe, reliable patient care and improving safety outcomes.


A six month communications project focused on audit notification and staff communication processes. High order flow charts, cause and effect diagrams and two surveys were conducted. Results improved with the introduction of Brolga.


Project interventions included:

  • Safety Huddle – PSOs from RSQ and the service providers on teleconference for 30 minutes only, raising cases for discussion to quickly gain information. STIG meetings contained cases of some age – so this Huddle was to:
    build bridges; reduce time on cases by gaining pertinent information in a timely manner and documenting in the case on the Quality Database; professional development sharing;
  • RSQ Management Morning Huddle.
  • Weekly Staff Forum – leading up to Brolga – has been used as main source of information dissemination of Brolga. The Forum has a scope of Operational; Educational; Patient Safety and ‘Round Table’. This Forum has also included topics, such as Wellness talks – Emotional Intelligence, giving staff more personal skills to work at RSQ and the challenges it faces.

Other interventions to assist in this improvement project:

  • Formal Debriefing - one of the highlighted issues is the effect of Telehealth on RSQ staff
  • Safety Huddles during the day shift to improve situational awareness
  • Christmas Party Committee formed.

This project’s aim to create a more cohesive, engaged workforce at all levels, has succeeded. Six months of interventions have demonstrated an increase in staff satisfaction and engagement and an ongoing stability in staff notification of cases for Audit. At every organisation level, this initiative has moved RSQ from an Authoritative to more Affiliate Leadership and Team style – more inclusive, transparent and where staff are able to present ideas, identify issues and provide solutions.


Plans for next steps:

  • Ongoing development of current Quality management and improvement process to transition from Incident Management to Outcomes – focused Quality Improvement.
  • Riskman Implementation within a unique, non-HHS environment
  • Maintain and improve staff communication processes, gained from outcomes of the project’s data.
  • Move towards a more innovative and research-driven organisation.


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