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Drone Technology for Healthcare

January 7, 2022 - by Parul Saini, Webmedy team


We have seen how Covid-19 has influenced the healthcare sector. It has triggered a rapid expansion in health technology - some obvious, like the rise of telemedicine or at-home lab tests, others filled a much-needed immediate void.

The demand for safe and quick solutions has raised the development of robotic support in hospitals and - drones. Drones or we can say Unmanned Aerial vehicles (UAVs) have assisted retailers around the world, who aim to use the technology for delivering packages at record speeds. Drones are now not only used for delivering packages and goods, but they are providing solutions in the medical world also.

Medical drones are considered as the future of disaster relief since they can easily travel to isolated areas carrying life-saving supplies. They have allowed healthcare professionals and blood bank operators to save lives and improve their medical services as well.

How Drones are Transforming Healthcare?

Drones are small rotary winged aircraft, which can be programmed to fly routes or controlled remotely. They contain GPS sensors, are powered by lithium batteries and include brushless motors that prolong the life of the aircraft. Drones can also be configured to carry small packages, which include communication devices and cameras. They can fly uninterrupted for an hour and have a maximum range of 60 miles, which enables them to reach isolated areas quickly.

There are a lot of exciting possibilities when you combine medicine with drones. We have listed some use cases of drones in healthcare here:

  • Drones can be used to deliver Hazardous material and Blood products.
  • Drones can increase the accessibility to, and speed of delivery for, life-saving medications and vaccines.
  • One of the biggest use cases for drones is in diagnostics. Some diagnostic tests are time and temperature-sensitive, so when a sample is taken from a patient, it has to be sent to the lab and the test must be performed within a specific timeframe, which may be as short as 2 hours.
  • Drones can be used to transfer organs from donor to patient, often between 4-36 hours depending on the organ type. Drones can make organ delivery faster, safer, and more cost-effective.
  • Drones transfer small medical devices like automated external defibrillators (AEDs).

How Covid-19 has accelerated the use of Drones in Healthcare?

COVID-19 has accelerated some aspects of healthcare delivery by drone. Things that probably wouldn't have even been thought of maybe a year ago, are now being piloted or put into action, such as the use of drones for medical transport. Now drones are used to deliver vaccines with some medical partners in remote areas as it is the cheapest and safest solution. During the pandemic, drones have been a proven vehicle for delivering vaccines, food, medications, and messages, among other items.

Disinfecting and Sanitizing with the help of Drones

Another field where drones could add substantial value is disinfection. Sanitizing convention centers, entertainment, or sports venues with safe disinfectants enables us to get back to our lives and enjoy the safety of clean surfaces.

A team of scientists from the National University of Ireland Galway's Health Innovation via Engineering (HIVE) lab has developed a drone that is capable of emitting ultraviolet (UV) light to sterilize surfaces in public places amid the COVID-19 pandemic. This device is developed to disinfect public places like restaurants, hospital wards, shopping centers, and airports. With the help of AI algorithms, the drone can emit the microorganism-killing light, which is dangerous for humans, over predetermined locations and times - generally at night and when the space is unoccupied.

Conclusion

These are just a few examples of how drones are changing the face of healthcare. As the technology becomes more sophisticated and the capabilities enhanced, it is safe to say drones will play a larger role in the healthcare industry, lightening the load on overtaxed healthcare workers. Medical companies around the world see the value and want to play some role in evolving the medical drone field. Drones hold the potential to completely revolutionize medical care, and it is safe to assume the future of healthcare is bright.

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