You might have heard about Amazon’s plans to begin delivering packages via delivery drone. There has also been talk of pizza makers utilizing drones to delivery a hot pie to your door. Hospitals are now getting in on the conversation about utilization of delivery drones for things a lot more important than a new book or slice of pizza.
The Mayo Clinic is exploring the use of drones to supply hospitals with precious medical supplies like blood. For a hospital like GVMH there’s a lot of potential for the benefit of drones in blood delivery. Blood supplies are low and blood is a perishable item. Platelets and thawed plasma only last about 5 days. We keep an inventory of blood on hand but that inventory is very low. In the event of an emergency or disaster our supply would be depleted quickly.
We get our blood from Community Blood Center in Kansas City and it is delivered on a regular basis. In the event of an emergency the blood will still be an hour away and would require a police escort with lights and sirens but a delivery drone could speed the process considerably. No escort needed and traffic would not be a concern.
The logistics of keeping blood cool and securely packaged would need to be worked out but the potential exists. Drones are new to the scene in general and only licensed operators are allowed to fly them for commercial purposes but it looks like restrictions are being lifted. The use of drones is a lot like the use of automobiles in the early 1900’s. There were cars around but there weren’t license requirements, speed limits and other traffic rules. Regulations for drones are following a similar path and as demand increases ease of access will as well.
We’re not going to see blood delivered by drone any time soon but in 2006 none of us had an iPhone either! Point is, it’s not as far-fetched an idea as you may think.