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Medical Drones: Trends, Operations and Barriers

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What are Drones?

The term Drones refers to an unpiloted aircraft or is also known as Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs), these aerial vehicles can carry out an excellent wide range of tasks, ranging from package delivery to military operations. The term unmanned aerial vehicles were first introduced in the 1980s to designate remotely controlled, or autonomous, multi-use aerial vehicles. The well-known public term drone was first introduced, due to the resemblance of the loud and rhythmical sound of old military unmanned target aircraft to that of a male bee. In 1942, the Navy established a radio-controlled drone that carried a torpedo. The origins of UAVs can be dated back to World War I, almost 100 years back.

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Sub-Saharan Africa leads the way in medical drones - The Lancet

Drones, Other Industries, and Healthcare Industry:

Drones are one of the emerging technologies that are transforming the transportation system. Previously drone were used for military expeditions, however, nowadays the drone can be seen in commercial & civilian use, making their way in various other industries such as e-commerce, mining, chemicals industry, forest conservation, construction, geography mapping, filmmaking, petrochemicals, (Oil & Gas), public safety such as the law enforcement, fire departments, search and rescue operations, and many others. Moreover, the healthcare industry has also acknowledged the importance of drone transportation systems. Drones are offering a new extent to the healthcare system and users. Although the usage of drone in the healthcare sector is dawning, however in the coming years the adoption rate is anticipated to increase tremendously. The advancement in technology, growing investment, and support from the government will be the leading factors for the adoption of drones in the healthcare sector. In addition, these components are also forecasted to increase the healthcare products and services delivery in remote areas. Drones can be a supportive arm in transforming the existing healthcare system with many potential benefits. Furthermore, the Covid-19 pandemic has also stimulated the development of medical drones and their usage. Several companies have started testing the potential of drones in vital medical supplies.

Operation Mode of Drones:

These robotic drones operate without a pilot on board and with different levels of autonomy. Depending upon the technology, drone can be semi-autonomous where a human source remotely pilots and controls movements to advanced autonomous, which means that the drone relies on a sophisticated system of sensors and LIDAR detectors to determine its movement.

Transformation in transportation via Drones

The modern healthcare sector represents some of the extraordinary accomplishments of the human intellect to improve the quality of people’s lives. Yet, in these modern times, many people in rural and underdeveloped parts of the world still don’t have access to basic healthcare. Closing these gaps has become a new urgency during the current COVID-19 pandemic, which has made clear how interconnected all of our health outcomes are. Drone are an excellent way to modernize the last mile in medical deliveries and bridge gaps in access to basic healthcare in remote and underdeveloped parts.

Telehealth a Future Trend

Telehealth is an emerging area that could benefit from developments in drone technology that facilitate flight beyond visual line of sight (BVLOS) and drone delivery.  Mobile, contactless applications that offer two-way communications and delivery functions have vast potential in healthcare – especially in this ongoing pandemic. With new regulations like a flight over people and moving vehicles, scaling drone delivery to a wide range of residential areas has become more realistic. Access to healthcare is a major obstacle faced by individuals around the world – one that has been aggravated during the COVID-19 pandemic.  In the U.S., 1 in 4 people does not have access to a primary care physician where they can receive regular care.

Medical Assist from the SKY

One of the extraordinary potentials of drones is that they have become handy in recent times, to aid in tracking the hosts of Plasmodium knowlesi malaria that shows a potentially greater risk of infection to humans, considering how many people are infected. Moreover, drone enhance response time and increase delivery efficiency. Furthermore, the delivery of automated external defibrillators by drones to an accident scene during Covid-19 helps in preventing infection as continuous chest compressions (CCC) and early defibrillation are relevant without mouth-to-mouth ventilation.

Getting Medical Drones Into American Skies – InsideSources


Several factors hamper the usage of the medical drones in healthcare service, such as battery life, vibration during transport and concerns about movement accuracy, and maintenance of continuous communication between ground pilot and the drone. Additionally, environmental factors such as humidity and sudden fluctuations in air pressure and temperature during the delivery of blood samples, drugs, vaccines, and other medical supplies.

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The future of medical drones seems to be promising, particularly in the next six to seven years. Drone manufacturing companies are anticipated to adopt go-to-market strategies, Mergers, and acquisitions, and new product launches to stay competitive and meet the growing demand for medical drones. During the COVID-19 pandemic, drone technology has adapted to serve the needs of customers, manufacturers, and patients. Continuous research in the technology utilized in drones should further promote the usage of drones not only in the healthcare industry but also across other sectors, including e-commerce, mining, chemicals, forest conservation, construction, geography mapping, filmmaking, petrochemicals (oil and gas) and public safety such as law enforcement, fire departments, search and rescue operations.

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Mark Ott

Mark is a graduate in sciences that are instrumental using an MBA in operations. He's also worked as a research partner for five decades, accompanying medical investigation. As a youth, he donated medical information to neighborhood college journals. His passion is researching and composing medical stories. He knows his stuff, and viewers love his sensible insights.

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