Hospitals beat the traffic… with drones carrying blood sam…

Mater Dei Hospital is planning to bring in drones to pick up medicines, blood and urine samples, in a bid to beat Malta’s impossible traffic. 

The demand for a drone service has arisen in a bid to enhance collaboration and resource sharing between hospitals in Malta and Gozo. 

The project will handle both routine and urgent, critical care testing that requires timely specimen transportation. This includes the transport of specialised tests between the hospitals, as well as the efficient transportation of drugs and medicines. 

By using drones that can operate independently of traffic conditions, the hospitals get to ensure accessibility and cost-effectiveness. 

The integration of drone services for the transportation of medical goods between geographically separated hospitals presents a promising solution for healthcare logistics. 

The Pathology Department at Mater Dei Hospital offers a full range of services to every patient in the hospital and in the community. The complete test menu consists of about 1,700 tests, some of which take only a few minutes to be carried out, whilst others require longer time to process. Tests of an urgent nature are carried out 24×7.  

The department wants to explore the use of drones to transport specimen types such as blood samples, blood bags, urine, cerebrospinal fluid (CSF), blood cultures together with medicinals such as chemotherapeutic drugs between Mater Dei Hospital and Gozo General Hospital and vice versa.  

The plan is to have at least two daily routine trips carrying 5kg each, apart from any daily urgent trips. The samples will require a temperature-controlled environment of 2 to 8-degrees Celsius to prevent clotting or degradation.  

Mater Dei will also require a recovery plan for both land and sea in case of accidents.  

Flying revolution 

Drones, also known as unmanned aerial vehicles, were originally developed for military missions, but today drone technology has been harnessed to broaden its application in other vital sectors, including healthcare. 

The delivery of medicines, vaccines, and other medical supplies to remote areas and the collecting of biological samples for laboratory testing are major obstacles against the widespread application of telehealth. 

But drones can be used for the rapid transportation of organs and specimens with high delicacy, which can also potentially prevent any damage to the organs during transportation. Drones can be used to deliver medical supplies cost-effectively to people residing in remote areas and those affected by natural disasters or emergencies. 

Drones can also be used for medical surveillance. In densely populated areas with a high prevalence of infectious diseases, drones with integrated cameras can take videos or pictures of on-ground situations to help healthcare experts identify and restrict the factors responsible for rapid disease spread. 

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