Skyports, in partnership with Argyll & Bute HSCP, has begun carrying COVID test samples and other medical materials on drone delivery flights between medical facilities in the Argyll & Bute region. The three-month initiative aims to help improve COVID-19 related logistics to and from remote locations.
Using delivery drones, access to hard-to-reach areas can be improved, significantly increasing the speed of transport and reducing times in some areas of the Argyll & Bute region from up to 36 hours for a road and ferry journey to 15 minutes, while also increasing the frequency of pick- ups.
Skyports will run both a scheduled service and an on-demand service, with orders able to be placed by NHS staff through an online system.
Skyports will be using the Swoop Aero drone-powered logistics platform. The vehicles will be controlled from the Skyports Operations Centre in Oban and fly automatically along predefined routes. Communication between the drone and the ground control station will be provided through the 4G network and satellite communications to ensure connectivity coverage is provided at all times.
The drone delivery service will initially operate between Lorn & Islands Hospital in Oban, Mid-Argyll Community Hospital in Lochgilphead, Easdale Medical Practice in Clachan Seil and the Mull & Iona Community Hospital in Craignure.
“Using drone deliveries within supply chains can create significant time and cost savings. This initiative is a natural progression from our recent trials with the NHS in Scotland as we scale our operations, supporting a wider network of hospitals and medical practices as they continue to respond to the COVID-19 pandemic.
“The experience from this important initiative will put us another step closer to permanent operations from which we hope more NHS facilities could soon benefit from. This project underscores the viability of drone technology as a practical way to move goods.”
“I can’t take blood tests after 1pm because the van courier picks up the daily pathology samples at 1:30pm”
“With a drone I could collect blood samples all day, giving my patients so much more flexibility and getting results to them sooner”.
– NHS Practice Manager
“The pathology lab gets hit with a huge amount of samples at about 4pm as the vans come in with the days collection. A drone delivery service would help smooth out the supply of samples into the lab”.
– NHS Pathology Manager
“Argyll and Bute HSCP is delighted to once again be at the forefront of using this innovative technology to assess how unmanned drones can enhance our logistics operations and improve services for patients and clinicians in some of our most remote and island communities. This three-month project working with Skyports will provide critical evidence on the real benefits this technology can bring to the NHS not only in Argyll and Bute but across Scotland.”
– Stephen Whiston, Argyll & Bute HSCP
“I would just like to say that, although initially sceptical about how much use we would make of the drone at Easdale Medical Practice, it has proved invaluable in delivering urgent samples to the laboratory for analysis. The operators are friendly and helpful and the operating system straightforward. On behalf of our staff and patients, thank you.”
A scaled-up solution to support a wider network of healthcare facilities
A permanent solution built on trials that have taken place within a local area
A solution that can be applied to any country in the world
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