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7 Ways Drones Are Supporting the Healthcare Sector
Commercial drones have made an impact on our world in countless ways, from allowing for advances in surveying and security to delivering products and protecting the environment. Now, drones are poised to make a huge impact in healthcare, improving access to medical equipment and assistance for people in high-risk areas. Drone use in the healthcare sector is saving lives around the world.
Drones as First Responders
When accidents or mass casualty events happen, time is always of the essence. Getting to the victims and providing the necessary care they need to be safely moved from the scene to a hospital, means the difference between life and death. In many cases, however, access to a scene can be limited and rescue vehicles can take too long to reach victims. Drones, with their ability to maneuver and move as quickly “as the crow flies”, can reach victims at a scene as much as 20 minutes sooner than a first responder vehicle. They can also land easily, without the need for clearance that a helicopter would require.
Once the drone has arrived, individuals that are on scene can use the medical equipment that the drone is carrying to help stabilize a victim. Drones are already being tested with AED devices on board, allowing individuals to shock a cardiac arrest victim and restart their heart before rescue vehicles arrive.
Drones are also being tested for blood delivery. Researchers at Johns Hopkins have successfully flown a drone carrying small amounts of blood, establishing a safe and effective way to transport blood transfusions to the scene of an accident.
In Africa, drone delivery systems are also being developed to carry blood to rural areas. For many areas of the continent plagued by war and turmoil, the need for a ready blood supply is obvious. Countries such as Rwanda are working together with robotics firms in Europe and the United States to set up drone networks for blood delivery to remote areas, and ground-based delivery systems are being tested for more accessible areas.
Medical Care by Air
For many areas of the world, remote locations make it all but impossible for populations to access the medical care they need when they need it. Traveling for a day or more, over dangerous terrain, is often the norm for these people, and many choose not to be treated because of the hardship.
In Madagascar, local research facilities are working with drone developers and universities to create a medical drone system that will ferry medicine and blood transfusions to local clinics, as well as to collect samples and return them to the research facilities for testing. A drone transport system would also improve accessibility for medical teams themselves, allowing them to reach communities without the need to transport heavy equipment and supplies.
Healing the World
Whether it is on a local scale or a global one, the use of drones in healthcare is about providing the tools first responders need to give patients the highest quality of care in any environment, location, or situation. Besides improving access and transporting medical equipment, medicine and blood, drones may also be used to transport lab samples; deliver rarely-used medications, such as anti-venom; deliver prescriptions to off-shore vessels or ships at sea; and transport organs for transplantation. Drones may even be used one day for telemedicine, making healthcare accessible from Antarctica to Everest.
Of course, as drones become more useful and used in the healthcare sector, protecting them becomes more important as well. Insurance companies are paying close attention to these drone developments, and are crafting their drone insurance policies to suit, ensuring that medical drone operators can protect this valuable equipment as it serves the needs of the community.
While there are many limitations to overcome, drones are being used in the healthcare sector already. Every day, more research and testing is expanding the possibilities for drone use in medicine, opening the possibility that soon medical drones may no longer be the stuff of science fiction.
Poms & Associates offers an array of business insurance and brokerage services and offers the most current information on commercial general liability insurance policies, as well as additional coverage options such as drone insurance. For more details about the basics of business insurance policies, and to find out how Poms & Associates can help you choose the right drone insurance coverage for your company, please visit our website or contact us.
Gabriella Messina is an author who has written online content for a variety of business and insurance related topics, including business insurance basics, workers’ compensation, liability insurance, and malpractice.