The Rise of the Drones

You will have seen by now, drones are everywhere.

For those of you not in the know, drones are quadcopters (four propellers) that have control boards and gyroscopes to allow them to be self-levelling. They are highly manoeuvrable and can be either remote controlled, or tethered to computers to be independent.

Many drones are capable of hovering on the spot, or following GPS waypoints, or to return to you after flying to the end of their range. Attaching cameras, or load handling equipment, turns these flying toys into real tools.

But, what about the digital health applications of drones?

There are lots of logistical hurdles faced by healthcare, from sending documents to time-sensitive samples. Imagine being able to take a patient’s blood, putting it into a crate that a drone can then fly off with, straight to the lab. There would be no need for a van and a driver.

It’s true that in some areas, drones can be shot out of the sky. But, in countries where gun laws are stricter, this autonomous craft can go about their business without the risk of being ambushed by a shotgun.

Amazon has been given clearance to trial the use of drones for its Prime service, getting deliveries to you within minutes of your order. This will be the first big test of these machines and how they can be deployed within urban settings.

Tackling the logistical issues of healthcare need innovative solutions, like the use of drones. Whether that’s for day-to-day delivery and collection, or for the safe and efficient airdrop of medication and guidance in areas hit by highly infectious epidemics.

The form-factor of a drone is highly adaptable. It only takes someone to look at a problem and see if a small drone, autonomous or remote control, could be the solution.

Perhaps a person has collapsed with cardiac arrest. A trained person could tap a button within an app on their phone, causing a drone to shoot off its station and deliver a defibrillator within moments to the scene of the incident.

The cost of drones is decreasing all the time, whilst their capabilities only continue to increase. Soon, we can expect to see a layer of the sky to be continuously dotted with little dots going about their business, making us ever more efficient.

So, who’s going to be the next drone delivery start-up for healthcare?

THE AUTHOR

James Barton

James is a freelance writer and specialist in Digital Health. He brings his perspective as a leader within a reknowned supplier to developments within the healthcare technology industry.

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