The healthcare industry is experiencing prominent changes because of the rapid advancement of tech. Artificial intelligence- AI is already playing a pivotal role in drug delivery and is also utilised across the manufacturing sector. Digital health has quickly emerged as an essential part of the provision when it comes to specific medications and healthcare, particularly in light of the pandemic.
The ability of researchers to quickly and also affordably sequence genes has opened up potential of treatments for a wide range of illnesses that before had no prospect of improvement.
Although medicine delivery may look like a less exciting field for the application of technology, it is important to recognise that efficient transportation of treatments can indeed be a matter of life or death. The advent of drone delivery could have a significant impact on particular regions across world, especially in areas where having medical treatments is hampered by the issues of reaching regions that are remote as well as unconnected. Drones have the capacity to offer ease while delivering treatments and also enhance efficiency by means of automation, particularly in more prosperous nations.
The roll-out of drone delivery for drugs happens to be in a nascent stage. There is no doubt that today’s technology is not advanced enough to be the main method of transporting goods through major cities. However, once the technology is sufficiently capable, the demand for an delivery improvement will be met.
One clear example of a pressing need is the connection of regions, towns, as well as countries where it is impractical or too slow to reach rural areas using traditional methods of transportation. One notable step in this field is the work of a company that values itself as the world’s largest autonomous delivery system. It has effectively utilised its drone technology to deliver medical supplies in hard-to-reach regions across Africa.
This company recently collaborated with one of the biggest COVID-19 vaccine manufacturers to transport the COVID-19 jab to remote areas of Ghana. One of the biggest obstacles to the introduction of new vaccines across Africa is reaching rural areas. The challenges in facilities and distribution, majorly when a cold chain process is necessary to preserve the effectiveness of vaccines, largely contribute to this situation. The partnership enabled both the companies to conduct a comprehensive test of the entire supply chain, starting from a manufacturing facility in Europe and extending all through to a health post located in Ghana.
The process included transporting the vaccine on thermal shippers by air from Belgium to Ghana. Once in Ghana, the vaccines were sent to the remote centres of the company. After being logged and placed in ultra-low-temperature freezers, the company had the capability to deliver vaccines to the most remote health clinics in the country by way of autonomous planes. These aircraft come with thermal packaging to ensure the vaccines remain at the required temperature all through the delivery process.
The benefits of using drone delivery are not limited to countries with remote, rural areas. The world’s largest companies are keenly interested in effectively implementing drone delivery because of the significant practical simplicity it offers. One of the drone delivery service companies has recently entered into a partnership to establish a medical drone delivery operation in Ireland. The partnership plans to begin collaboration with healthcare facilities and other care providers in the latter part of 2023.
The objective is to collaborate with healthcare and pharmacy partners in South Dublin to establish a rapid medical delivery network that will integrate one company’s aircraft and automation technology with the healthcare logistics expertise of the other company, resulting in a fully automated and on-demand delivery system.
As per one of the partner companies, Ireland has been a favourable location for drone technology in Europe, serving as a thriving hub for future innovations and that they sincerely appreciate the collaboration they have had with regulators and are eagerly anticipating the upcoming steps in South Dublin.
There were several advantages that the partnership would bring. Firstly, the medical drone delivery service would help with reducing emissions by utilising electric planes. Additionally, it would skip ground traffic, ensuring quicker and better delivery. The implementation of automation would enable cost-effective delivery of small items. Lastly, patients would benefit from reduced wait times, improving their overall experience.
Worldwide drone delivery network
The rapid expansion of drone delivery is currently taking place on a global scale. Last year, an announcement was made that cancer drugs would be transported by air from Portsmouth, UK, to St. Mary’s Hospital on the Isle of Wight, which is located across the water from Ireland. The Isle of Wight is not connected to mainland England by a bridge, which makes it much faster to transport treatments using drones instead of conventional techniques. According to the company that provided the drones for the tests, the time frame for delivery would be decreased from four hours to just 30 minutes.
It is well to be noted that there is an influx of funding going towards start-ups in this particular field. This is in contrast to the overall trend where capital has been scarce in other start-up sectors like biotech. Given the evident funding and benefits associated with drone delivery, the issue at hand is not whether this method of shipment will be adopted but rather when it will be formally implemented.