What Impact May India’s Drone Start-ups Have on Healthcare?
Drones have been hailed as a real game for India’s medical business, particularly in terms of bringing treatment to rural areas. Since India liberalized drone restrictions last year, several operators have conducted successful test flights.
A drone carrying large blood samples actually took off from Meerut, a city in Uttar Pradesh’s northern state, and flew 72 kilometers (44 miles) to Noida, a suburb of India’s capital Delhi, earlier this month.
It took a little more than an hour to get there, with a planned stop for a battery switch along the way. The trip one would have taken with over two hours by car.
This study, which was conducted by a diagnostics lab utilizing an unmanned aircraft system, is the first of several being conducted by drone manufacturers around the nation, who are testing medical supplies, pathology tests, and even blood units delivery.
Since November, Skye Air Mobility, the drone logistics business that developed and flew back the drone to Noida, has completed over 1,000 flights and carried over 3,500kg of varied cargo ranging from e-commerce goods to blood tests.
“Based on the data we’ve acquired from the flights, we’ve cut the time it takes by roughly 48 percent when compared to traditional methods,” said Ankit Kumar, CEO of Skye Air Mobility.
The drone business recently performed a test in Gurgaon, a Delhi suburb, with a comparable payload for SRL Diagnostics, one of India’s largest testing organizations. A lab professional took the samples, which were then packaged into a temperature-controlled container connected to the drone. It was then transferred only from a private hospital to a lab facility, where a lab expert received it.
Overall, it took roughly a third of the time that traveling by road would have taken.
“This technique will assist maximize sample processing capacities, resulting to an efficient and reliable lab operation, while helping patients who demand speedier delivery of crucial findings,” says SRL Diagnostics CEO Anand K.
However, public health specialists claim that there are just a few anecdotal cases when drones have been successfully employed in healthcare.
“The cost is the most crucial issue; it is not yet successful since it is still in the testing phase. There’s still a lot of work to be done “According to Rutuja Patil, a medicinal chemist and public health policy medical researcher at the KEM Hospital Research Centre in Pune, India.
Last year, Ms Patil supervised a public health initiative that employed battery-powered drones to transport crucial medical supplies to community health centers in rural Maharashtra.
“Right now, what we’ve shown is that there’s a vehicle, software, and automation, and that they can interact with each other,” she adds, adding that the system has to scale up in order to become cost effective.
Flying vaccinations or medications that must be carried and disseminated between 2 and 8 degrees Celsius, the so-called cold chain – and in certain circumstances as low as -20 degrees Celsius – might be difficult, according to her.