Cutting edge medical institutions are considering drones for use in supply chain networks for critical supplies such as blood.
There have been reports over the past couple years of drones delivering pizza and Amazon products, but now the Mayo Clinic is pushing for drones to be used for supplying hospitals with critical medical supplies such as blood.
“Blood is unique because it’s expensive and expires—platelets and thawed plasma last just five days—and the supply is very limited,” states Cornelius A. Thiels, a general surgery resident at Mayo Clinic’s Rochester, Minnesota campus. “In our region, the smallest critical access hospitals stock just two to six units of red cells and no fresh frozen plasma or platelets.”
Smaller hospitals are often dependent on larger hospitals and blood banks for their blood supply. It’s been known to happen to small and medium sized hospitals to have a single patient deplete a hospital’s total supply of the red stuff. It’s not uncommon for even large metropolitan hospitals to struggle with demand for particular blood types. During times of crisis such as mass casualty accidents and disasters, entire regions can be in short supply. That is why drones could alleviate the situation, zipping off to save a life the minute an EMS call is made.
These days blood is usually delivered via courier services or other emergency authorities such as highway patrol. Air delivery tends to be done by expensive helicopters which require the appropriate infrastructure and personnel driving up costs just for critical supply chains. This is key to the reason why unmanned aerial vehicles could totally dominate this niche, saving tons of money and time.
Aside from blood, drones could be critical for saving lives by delivering drugs and supplies that many hospitals don’t keep in stock.