Drones to carry blood samples

Friday, 08 March, 2019

For three years, blood samples and medical equipment will be flown with drones between Odense, Svendborg and Aeroe in a new Danish project named HealthDrone launched by international ambulance and healthcare provider Falck and Autonomous Mobility.

Later, drones will also transport highly specialised healthcare professionals who need to arrive quickly.

Falck sees great potential in the use of drones. Falck CEO Jakob Riis believes that initiatives like HealthDrone are important elements in creating a future-proof healthcare system.

"As an active partner in the Danish healthcare system, we are deeply concerned with developing the Danish health system together with the research and the hospital system and jointly finding solutions that both make us more effective and which benefit the patients. Therefore, it is obvious for us to participate in this ambitious project, where we can get the first valuable experience with health drones", says Jakob Riis.

The initial tests of the health drones will be carried out in the airspace above Denmark's national drone test centre. The drones will then be tested in flights with blood samples from Svendborg and Aeroe to the laboratory at Odense University Hospital. Today, the transport time is an average of 12 hours, but the researchers expect that the trip will take three quarters of an hour by drone.

"When we're talking infections, time is crucial, and when the blood samples arrive faster, we can ensure better treatment and we can reduce the use of broad-spectrum antibiotics. At the same time, calculations show that if the drones take over the tasks that are laid out in the project, OUH will save DKK 15 million a year", says medical director at Odense University Hospital, Peder Jest, who originally came up with the idea of drones in the health sector.

OUH accounts for 7.5 per cent of the total hospital sector in Denmark, and if the drones were rolled out to all of Denmark, the estimated savings are approx. 200 DKK million per year. At the same time, the researchers expect that there will be major savings on the climate account because the drones don't use gasoline or diesel.

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