Tuesday, January 31, 2017

Drones Used to Deliver Healthcare Supplies

As most of my regular readers  know, I love drones.  I've been flying since the DIY days and some of my best relaxing moments have come as my quadracopter zips around overhead.  However, drones can be more than just high priced toys... much more.

Lots of companies are investigating where drones might fit into their business plans.  Amazon, UPS, and even Domino's Pizza are looking at adding drones to their delivery services in order to get their shipments to customers faster and easier.

Now, you can imagine my joy when I read the portion of the article below from Healthcaredive.com  It seems that drones even have use in healthcare. Here is the drone piece in full:

Unmanned aerial vehicles are a curiosity for most Americans, but in some remote parts of the world, drones are already having an impact on healthcare.

In October, drone startup Zipline, in partnership with UPS and Gavi, began delivering blood supplies to transfusion facilities in western Rwanda where barriers to land transportation can prevent blood supplies from reaching critically ill or injured patients in time to save a life.

“Because of infrastructure deficiencies like impassible or nonexistent roads and supply chain challenges, many remote health centers across the world only receive deliveries twice a year,” the company told Healthcare Dive via email. “Zipline will make it possible for these same clinics to receive deliveries twice a day.”

Each drone, or Zip, can carry 1.5 kg of blood and fly up to 150 km round trip, dropping down low to air drop the package at a designated spot, before returning to the Nest at Zipline’s distribution center within the Central African nation. The whole trip takes about 30 minutes.

To date, Zipline has made close to 100 flights in Rwanda as it works to bring the first two of 21 clinics online. “Some of those have been test flights to map out the routes to hospitals. A smaller number of those flights have been deliveries to clinics,” the company said.

The plan is to stand up five delivery sites to start and then expand one by one to serve the remaining clinics. At that point, Zipline expects to be making between 50 and 150 flights a day.

The company plans to expand the drone delivery service to the eastern half of Rwanda in early 2017, and, from there, to other countries in Africa and around the world, including the sites U.S. Federal aviation regulators have cleared Zipline to deliver blood — Smith Island, MD, and the San Juan Islands of Washington, and Nevada.

Zipline also plans to move beyond blood to deliver medications and vaccines for HIV/AIDS, malaria, tuberculosis and other life-threatening diseases.

Since the company partners with governments, there’s no worry about reimbursement. “We’re able to make medical deliveries for about the same cost as current modes of transportation — like motorcycles and cars — just faster and more efficiently,” Zipline representatives said. “And the economic benefits of a healthier population are immeasurable."

If you would like to read the full article that features other tech pieces coming to the healthcare sector, follow this link.

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