EMED Group, which provides healthcare logistics services to the NHS, recently partnered with Skyports Drone Services on a proof-of-concept trial using drones to transport samples.
The four-week trial, launched in June, saw over 400 pathology samples ‘successfully transported’ between two sites occupied by the East Suffolk and North Essex NHS Foundation Trust (ESNEFT).
EMED Group’s Chief Executive is convinced of the benefits of drone usage, explaining: “Not only does it provide tangible environmental benefits, but it also ensures that vital pathology samples and medical supplies are quickly and effectively transported between points of care with no risk to delays we often experience on the road network.
“All of this ultimately ensures our communities are that little bit healthier and those with medical needs are diagnosed more rapidly.”
Shelley Garrey, Service Lead for Support Services at ESNEFT, added: “This is a really exciting step in looking at new technologies to help deliver healthcare faster. Using drones mean patients will receive their results quicker while saving time and resources. This is an exciting pilot project and we hope we can look to expand in the future.”
The drone that has been used in the trial is the Swoop Aero Kookaburra III, with capacity for a 3kg payload. According to Skyports, a single-drone operation can save 22.72 tonnes of CO₂ emissions per year compared to a standard diesel van over a distance of 77,080 miles.
Alex Brown, Director of Skyports Drone Services, said: “We’re at a really important stage in the scaling of medical drone logistics. Projects such as this one with EMED are helping pave the way for permanent operations by demonstrating just how safe, beneficial, and effective drone services are – and the ease with which they can be implemented.
“Each delivery we complete ensures that a patient receives the care they need that bit quicker. At scale, the impact is transformational.”
News of this trial follows the announcement of Skyports’ drone delivery project with Royal Mail in Orkney.