Time is crucial within health services when it comes to making a diagnosis, starting treatment or delivering special equipment to a certain position at the hospital. This is especially effective when it comes to infections where a quick answer to a blood sample analysis may be critical. When blood samples make it to analysis faster, it is also possible to find the correct form of treatment faster. This means that it is possible to avoid unnecessary isolation of the patients and the use of broad-spectrum antibiotics.
Because of this, Odense University Hospital and the University of Southern Denmark now study drones as a possible answer to better effeciency with hospital logistics. The project of HealthDrone is being initiated in January 2019, and it is the first time that drones are being used for hospital logistics at a hospital in Denmark.
The aim of the project is for drones to ensure faster transport of medical equipment, biological tests and in the long term health staff. Because of this, the project will test drone transport through so-called “air corridors” between OUH’s hospital units in Odense, Svendborg and Aeroe.
It is expected that blood samples and medical equipment can be flown from A to B in less than an hour, whereas the present transportation time is in average 12 hours for moving samples from a clinical department to the central laboratory for analysis. The project will also test in the long term whether a special type of drone is able to transport highly specialised doctors if operation rooms at other hospitals have acute challenges.
The drone technology is fully developed, and only missing components such as transport boxes suited for airborne transportation of biological tests need to be developed. Because of this, it is expected that the project will be testing drone deliveries within 1-2 years.
The initial test flights will take place as soon as this year in the airspace above Denmark’s national drone testing centre at HCA Airport just outside of Odense. Afterwards, the drones will be tested in flying outside of visual range (BVLOS) in a corridor between Aeroe, Svendborg and Odense. In this context, the Danish Transport Authority needs to issue permits, and the drones need to be equipped with safety systems that allow them to fly as safely as regular airplanes.
In addition to being test-site for the test flights, OUH will be in charge of the assessment of the clinical and financial benefits of the project seen from a hospital’s perspective. The assessment is carried out by OUH’s unit for Health Technology Assessment.
Kjeld Jensen Iben Fasterholdt
View press coverage from the launch of the project:
The project is a collaboration between Odense Universitety Hospital, the Drone Centre at University of Southern Denmark, which also accomodates UAS Denmark drone testing centre, and the companies of Autonomous Mobility A/S, Falck A/S, Unifly og Scandinavian Avionics A/S, who all work in drone and health logistics.
HealthDrone has received financial support of DKK14.000.0000 from the Dansh Innovation Foundation (Innovationsfonden).