- Drones were found to reduce response time in simulated out-of-hospital cardiac arrests by about 16 minutes in comparison to emergency medical services, a study published in JAMA found.
- Researchers from the Karolinska Institutet in Stockholm dispatched a drone equipped with an automated external defibrillator, GPS and high-definition camera to locations where cardiac arrests had previously occurred. The simulated events were all within 6.2 miles of the drone launch site.
- “Saving 16 minutes is likely to be clinically important,” the authors wrote. “Nonetheless, further test flights, technological development, and evaluation of integration with dispatch centers and aviation administrators are needed.”
While the study was limited to relatively short distance flights, it could have implications for rural and medically underserved areas where patients often don’t have easy access to a hospital or emergency room. A recent Centers for Disease Control and Prevention study found rural Americans more likely to die from heart disease and four other conditions than people living in urban areas.
Drones in particular could be on the front lines of disruption when it comes to healthcare's supply chain.
West coast drone startup Zipline began delivering blood supplies to transfusion facilities in western Rwanda last October. In November 2016, the company completed a $25 million Series B funding round aimed at expanding operations into the eastern part of the country, the U.S. and elsewhere.
U.S. federal aviation regulators have cleared Zipline to deliver blood to three rural sites: Smith Island, Md., Washington’s San Juan Islands and Nevada. The company has said it intends to move beyond blood to deliver medications and vaccines for life-threatening diseases like HIV/AIDS, malaria and tuberculosis.