Drone program will enable delivery of medical laboratory samples during the day, rather than just at night, allowing daytime sample processing that will increase efficiency and shorten time to results
Healthcare network clinical laboratories continue to explore the use of unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs), commonly known as drones, to safely deliver medical supplies and clinical laboratory specimens between locations. Dark Daily has covered several similar pioneering drone programs taking place around the world in recent years.
The latest medical laboratory company to launch a drone delivery program is Interpath Laboratory, an independent full-service medical laboratory in the Pacific Northwest.
In partnership with Arizona-based Spright—the drone division of Air Methods, a patient transport company with 300 bases in 48 states—Interpath recently announced the launch of its drone delivery pilot program for delivering lab testing specimens from Yellowhawk Tribal Health Center to Interpath’s medical laboratory in Pendleton, Oregon.
The two organizations hope the initiative will expedite the turnaround time needed for test results, thus allowing for timelier diagnoses and improving patient care and outcomes.
Replacing Automobile-based Medical Laboratory Specimen Delivery
“If this pilot program is successful and we are able to utilize this service, our patients have the opportunity to benefit from more rapid test results and access follow-up medical procedures and services,” stated Aaron Hines, CEO of Yellowhawk Tribal Health Center in a press release. “This project could help us further our mission of providing high-quality, primary healthcare for the Confederated Tribes of the Umatilla Indian Reservation (CTUIR).”
Currently, patient samples taken throughout the day at various Yellowhawk facilities are picked up and delivered to Interpath’s clinical laboratory in the evening via gasoline-powered vehicles. A successful drone service would allow lab test specimens to be repeatedly picked up and delivered to the lab for analysis throughout the day.
“Medical laboratory services in rural areas frequently must invest intensive time and resources into sample pick-up,” said Tom Kennedy, president of Interpath Laboratory, in the press release. “We anticipate Spright’s drone delivery service will alleviate many of the drawbacks and costs associated with automobile-based delivery. This initiative represents an example of our embrace of innovative solutions that provide more efficient and effective services to our clients.”
Other Clinical Laboratory Drone Deliver Programs Worldwide
Dark Daily has published many articles on the use of drones to deliver medical supplies and laboratory specimens. In “SUNY Upstate Medical University and NUAIR Complete Trial Delivery Service of Medical Supplies on Campus Using Unmanned Drones,” we covered how SUNY Upstate Medical University was experimenting with the feasibility of utilizing drones to deliver medical supplies between buildings on their campus.
In “Walmart, Quest Diagnostics, and DroneUp Collaborate on Pilot Project to Deliver COVID-19 Laboratory Tests to Consumers in Select Cities,” we reported that Walmart, Quest Diagnostics, and DroneUp had collaborated on a pilot program to deliver at-home self-collection COVID-19 test kits to residents of several areas that were hit hard by the COVID-19 pandemic.
And in, “Hospitals in United States and Germany Team Up with Matternet and UPS to Make Medical Laboratory Deliveries by Drone the New Normal,” we reported on California-based Matternet’s launch of the first BVLOS-operated medical drone network in Europe. This project was launched at Labor Berlin, Europe’s largest hospital laboratory, which includes facilities in 13 hospitals located throughout Berlin.
Innovative approaches, such as the utilization of drones to make clinical laboratory specimen deliveries, can help circumvent many of the challenges in delivering healthcare to rural areas. But UAV delivery networks work equally well for faster specimen transferals in urban environments as well, leading to timelier diagnoses of diseases and ultimately to better patient outcomes.
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