Drones are set to deliver blood samples and chemo kits in the UK. Source: Shutterstock.

Drones are set to deliver blood samples and chemo kits in the UK. Source: Shutterstock.

UK’s National Health Service can now deliver medical supplies with drones

DRONE technology is gradually integrated into the daily operations of various industries. In the UK, the healthcare industry is the latest to benefit.

A partnership has been formed between four councils, namely, Portsmouth, Southampton, Isle of Wight, and Hampshire, to carry out pilot studies using drones or unmanned aerial vehicles (UAV) for medical purposes.

Specifically speaking, it has been proposed that blood samples and chemotherapy kits be transported using UAVs between hospitals and GP surgeries. This will be done in collaboration with the National Health Service (NHS).

When blood samples are delivered for testing via drones, results will be more accurate, as the risk of contamination is greatly reduced.

According to Rick Allen, Operations Manager for the Southampton General Hospitals’ (SGH) Laboratories, “As soon as the blood is taken from a patient’s vein, the clock is ticking. We have four hours to get it from the vein to us and then we’ve got a couple of hours to process that sample.

“If we can be assured of getting samples to us quicker, then we can be that much more assured that the results are accurate and are the correct result for that patient.”

The same goes for chemotherapy kits. Currently, cancer patients from the Isle of Wight need to travel to SGH for chemotherapy treatments.

With drones, chemotherapy can be brought directly to the patient.

Specialized kits from the SGH can be programmed to recognize a patient’s address. After a drop-off, all that is required is for the patient to bring the kit to the hospital, and have the medication administered by local medical staff.

The benefits of using drones in transporting medical supplies are multi-fold.

Aside from the above, it also provides a solution to the lack of healthcare accessibility. Rural areas that were previously a challenge to reach via land transportation can now have easy access to healthcare services.

Taking medical supplies to the sky is not something new. Recently, a UPS-CVS pharmacy partnership had also successfully completed two drone-driven prescription medication deliveries in the US.

Giving the green light to the new partnership in the UK will take some time as approvals from the Department of Transport are still underway.

Understandably, some experts have raised concerns about public privacy, security, and safety with regard to using these devices.

Other experts, however, are confident that the public will eventually accept this form of medical delivery.

This move to leverage technology (in this case, drones), in the medical industry is a commendable one.

Soon, drone delivering public services will be a reality in cities, bringing major benefits for both enterprises and the public sector alike.