DRONES WILL TRANSPORT CLINICAL TESTS AND DOCTORS BETWEEN HOSPITALS IN DENMARK
ANNOUNCEMENT: Drones are going to be the hospitals’ modern pneumatic tube system.
That is the goal of the HealthDrone project, which Autonomous Mobility is a partner in, along with Falck and Southern University of Denmark. The project will integrate drones into the Danish healthcare system and it is funded by the Innovation Fund Denmark, with 14 million Danish kroner.
During the project’s three years, blood samples and medical equipment is going to be flown by drones, between Odense, Svendborg and Ærø. Later on in the project, drones will also transport highly specialised medical staff, who need fast transportation. The use of drones could save the danish healthcare system of almost 200 million danish kroner per year, ensure a better treatment of patients and reduce the use of antibiotics.
“We see healthdrones as an untapped potential for helping a strained healthcare system, where we are seeing fewer beds, for a growing group of elderly. At the same time, distances to hospitals are increasing. The smaller hospitals are shut down and the number of medical centers are dropping, and this is where healthdrones can help”, says Kjeld Jensen, scientist at SDU Dronecenter and project manager on the HealthDrone project.
Autonomous Mobility will operate the drones
“After successful self-driving pilot projects on land, in both Denmark and Sweden, we are looking forward to using our experience to take to the skies with autonomous drones. The fact that this partnership also provides real improvement to healthcare logistics, thereby improving patient treatment, makes the project even more interesting to a purpose-driven company like ours”, states CEO Peter Sorgenfrei, from Autonomous Mobility.
Big reduction of costs
Peder Jest, Executive Director and CMO at Odense University Hospital, originated the idea of using drones for transporting blood samples.
“When it comes to infections, time is crucial. When blood samples arrive quickly, we can ensure a better treatment and we can reduce the use of broad spectrum antibiotics. Also, calculations show, that if drones assume the tasks that this project proposes, the OUH will save up to 15 million Danish kroner per year”, says Peder Jest.
Drones will be delivering packages soon
Besides blood samples, drones will also help healthcare professionals by flying medical equipment.
“We expect to offer transport of packages with drones, within a short period of time. We already have clients who are requesting regular and fixed delivery routes. Towards the end of this project, we will start to fly humans with drones - something I experienced last spring and found surprisingly steady and tame”, says Peter Sorgenfrei.
Falck also sees great potential in the use of drones. CEO at Falck, Jakob Riis, believes that initiatives like HealthDrone is an important step towards creating a future-proof healthcare system.
“As an active part of the Danish health service system, we are deeply engaged with developing Danish healthcare, along with the research institutes and hospital systems, and together finding new ways to make us more efficient, to benefit our patients. That is why it is evident for us to be a part of this ambitious project, where we can have valuable learnings with healthdrones”, states Jakob Riis.
University of Southern Denmark, Falck, Autonomous Mobility, Odense University Hospital, Unifly and Scandinavian Avionics.
The project will last throughout 2019 – 2021
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