Researchers at the University of Cincinnati have developed a new telehealth drone to improve access to healthcare.
“Inventors Victoria Wangia-Anderson, Manish Kumar, Seung-Yeon Lee and Debi Sampsel from three colleges at UC collaborated to develop a semi-autonomous prototype that can be dispatched right to people’s homes,” says a UC press release. “The drones are big enough to carry medicine or medical supplies but small enough to maneuver the tight confines of a home using navigational algorithms developed by UC engineers.”
While Kumar and his students were working on autonomous drone navigation systems, researchers at UC’s College of Nursing were working on improving telehealth capabilities, including telehealth robots. Dr. Debi Sampsel, director of telehealth at UC’s College of Nursing, and Kumar began to collaborate 7 years ago, realizing that telehealth drones could solve problems of telehealth regardless of where patients live.
Sampsel and UC professor Tamilyn Bakas were exploring new technology with telehealth robots for participants living independently. Sampsel said the logistics and communications needed to perform these tasks remotely got her thinking about ways telehealth delivery could be improved to reduce health care disparities regardless of where people live.
Drones can materially assist in getting telehealth services to a wide variety of areas. Drones navigate using satellite or cellular communications: and the telehealth drone comes equipped with its own interface for communicating with healthcare professionals.
Telehealth is a new area that could benefit from advances in drone technology that facilitate flight beyond visual line of sight (BVLOS) and drone delivery. Mobile, contactless tools that provide two-way communications and delivery functions have vast potential in healthcare – especially in a pandemic. With new regulations like flight over people and moving vehicles, scaling drone delivery to a wide variety of residential areas has become more feasible.
Wangia-Anderson, a professor of health informatics in UC’s College of Allied Health Sciences, said she is very interested in mitigating health disparities. Telehealth drones have useful public health applications such as delivering essential materials like medication or test kits or surveying public health conditions in neighborhoods to identify effective interventions. They also can be used to assess living conditions or to provide a substitute for in-person care during a pandemic or epidemic outbreak. The data they provide can be useful for interventions, clinical care, population health and other decision-making, she said.
Miriam McNabb is the Editor-in-Chief of DRONELIFE and CEO of JobForDrones, a professional drone services marketplace, and a fascinated observer of the emerging drone industry and the regulatory environment for drones. Miriam has penned over 3,000 articles focused on the commercial drone space and is an international speaker and recognized figure in the industry. Miriam has a degree from the University of Chicago and over 20 years of experience in high tech sales and marketing for new technologies.
For drone industry consulting or writing, Email Miriam.
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