Case Study
Air Ambulance

The challenge

Air Ambulance doctors, paramedics and nurses were spending many hours sifting through hundreds of case notes, to identify ways of enhancing patient care and to track professional development.

The solution

With a custom FileMaker system, Air Ambulance clinicians are capturing details of each case, including treatments and outcomes, supported by data extracted from onboard medical equipment. They have tools for rapid, detailed analysis and reporting.


With better insights, Air Ambulance clinicians have identified operational changes that are already saving lives. Doctors, paramedics and nurses have detailed information to help them develop their skills and shape best practices. They are freeing-up hundreds of clinical hours, previously lost to paperwork.

Background to the
Air Ambulance project

Throughout the UK, air ambulance charities operate helicopters with highly skilled clinical teams, who provide emergency care and safe hospital transfers for the most serious incidents and patients in remote locations.

Dorset and Somerset Air Ambulance is committed to continual improvement and professional development in the demanding field of pre-hospital emergency medicine (PHEM). To achieve this they record the details of every incident, including the clinicians in attendance, the specific treatments they administer and patient outcomes.

The challenge
with paper records

Because they were recording all their incidents on paper, it was very time-consuming to carry-out regular reviews of cases and interventions. To analyse specific types of injury or intervention, they had to manually sift through hundreds of cases.

In pre-hospital emergency medicine, doctors, paramedics and nurses have to demonstrate their skill and experience in over a hundred different areas. Each individual had to find their own way of recording the types of incident and the interventions that they had administered.

a solution

Dr Mike Eddie, a clinician at Dorset and Somerset Air Ambulance, proposed that they create a computer database that would record the details of every incident and allow them to generate detailed reports and professional development records.

He had personal experience developing in FileMaker and worked with his colleagues to plan and create a prototype. After a period of developing and trialling his solution, another air ambulance charity asked to be involved and together they committed to investing in its development.

Creating a secure,
scalable system

Because FileMaker was already working well for them and had the potential to scale and grow, they looked for a developer who was skilled with FileMaker and could interpret and realise their vision. Smart Wolf came highly recommended and were engaged to take on the project.

The team from Smart Wolf worked with Mike and his colleagues to understand their vision for the future and the capabilities that the system would require. They prepared a detailed plan with timings and costs for turning the working prototype into a scalable, secure, web-accessible system which would be suitable for a nationwide rollout.

The project was phased so the core capabilities were developed rapidly from the prototype and rolled out in about a month. Further functionality was added in two phases, firstly additional capabilities and then integrations.


The system, which is known as PHEMnet (Pre-Hospital Emergency Medicine network), has four key areas of functionality:

Secure, web-based data collection
Air Ambulance clinicians record the details of each incident, including the patient’s condition and injuries, the medical team in attendance, the treatments provided and immediate patient outcomes.
Integration to other sources of medical data
Incident records are supplemented by pulling in detailed data from medical devices onboard the air ambulance. Similarly, contemporaneous observations are shared through integration with the electronic patient care report (EPCR) system used by ground ambulances.
Reporting and analysis for performance improvement
Senior staff at the air ambulance charities can quickly create reports and drill into details of relevant cases to establish best practice and understand where improvements could be made.
Providing records of professional development
All air ambulance clinicians have a detailed record for their professional development, allowing them to review and reflect on cases and to provide evidence of their experience and skills.

Saving lives, saving time

The air ambulance organisations are delighted with the new system. Since it was adopted, clinicians have freed-up hundreds of hours of clinical time by having data and reports instantly available.

With the insights from the reporting and analysis, they have identified best practices that are already helping them to save more lives. This includes how resources are geographically deployed, as well as some very specific medical capabilities which are now included in every crew.

The system of recording professional development has proved popular and effective. Through competitive tendering, PHEMnet is now licensed to the Royal College of Surgeons’ Faculty of Pre-Hospital Care, and the Intercollegiate Board for Training in Pre-hospital Emergency Medicine. It is now used by all doctors training in pre-hospital emergency medicine in the UK to record and review their skills and experience.

With the support of leading medical organisations, they are now planning to roll out the system to all air ambulance organisations, nationwide.

Next steps
Contact our team

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    Copyright 2020 Smart Wolf Ltd.

    Copyright 2020 Smart Wolf Ltd.