2-Mar-2022 Source: Spright
Spright, the drone division of Air Methods, announced today that it has partnered with Interpath Laboratory to launch a first-of-its-kind drone delivery network that can transfer lab specimens. The first proof-of-concept test flight was last week with the Yellowhawk Tribal Health Center to Interpath’s main medical laboratory location in Pendleton, OR.
The proof-of-concept initiative is expected to greatly reduce the turnaround time of critical diagnostic test results for clinics like Yellowhawk, and Interpath patients while also improving patient satisfaction, and enabling healthcare providers to implement follow-up care in a timelier manner.
The project, working with Pendleton UAS Test Site team, will use a Wingcopter 198 drone leveraging beyond line of sight (BVLOS) technology to perform the 15-mile flight from Yellowhawk to Interpath’s clinical laboratory in Pendleton.
The current process for laboratory services takes patient samples throughout the day, then batches them together for pick-up by gasoline-powered vehicles in the evening for delivery to Interpath. These vehicles typically drive thousands of miles each day across the region to pick-up specimens from numerous clinics, hospitals and facilities.
In contrast, the new drone-delivery initiative will enable samples to be repeatedly picked up and delivered to Interpath throughout the day, providing a green solution that removes gasoline-powered vehicles from roads and lessens local traffic.
“Many communities located in remote or rural areas lack timely and convenient access to essential medical supplies and service,” said Joe Resnik, president of Spright. “We look forward to this proof-of-concept, showcasing drone delivery’s ability to solve many of healthcare’s existing access and efficiency challenges, while also improving patient care and experience.”
If successful, this new approach will allow Interpath Laboratory to transport patient samples throughout the day, rather than primarily overnight. Maximizing daytime sample processing abilities will lead to more efficient laboratory operations, while benefiting patients and healthcare providers with faster delivery of vital test results.
“Medical laboratory services in rural areas frequently must invest intensive time and resources into sample pick-up,” said Tom Kennedy, President, Interpath Laboratory. “We anticipate Spright’s drone delivery service will alleviate many of the drawbacks and costs associated with automobile-based delivery. This initiative represents an example of our embrace of innovative solutions that provide more efficient and effective services to our clients.”
Rural healthcare has faced many challenges over the years. But innovative new approaches such as Interpath’s desire to explore new avenues to expand healthcare access is helping rural and Tribal healthcare leaders to make terrific advancements for their patients and the broader communities they serve.
“If this pilot program is successful and we are able to utilize this service, our patients have the opportunity to benefit from more rapid test results and access follow-up medical procedures and services,” said Aaron Hines, CEO of Yellowhawk Tribal Health Center. “This project could help us further our mission of providing high-quality, primary healthcare for the Confederated Tribes of the Umatilla Indian Reservation (CTUIR).”