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Sanford Health looking into using drones for hospital deliveries

by Michael Willoughby

Sanford Health, the US health care provider, is looking into the use of drones for hospital deliveries to quickly and efficiently transport small, light items such as medical specimens bound for testing that otherwise require the use of a human courier or something similar, according to the Duluth News Tribune.

“I think about small, lightweight, maybe valuable, potentially lifesaving-type articles that might fit into that niche,” said Dean Weber, Sanford Health vice president of corporate supply chain management told the paper. “The one that comes to mind … is diagnostic specimens.”

Weber continued to say that the drone discussions were still in their early stages, with regulations still up in the air and questions about how to handle dozens of delivery drones buzzing in and out of a medical centre where space — including airspace — comes at a premium.

“Obviously, we’re not going to deliver the type of bulky, voluminous-type supplies with a drone, but you could see something that was lifesaving, maybe moving pharmaceuticals, depending on the legality as such,” he said.

Weber, of Sanford Health, told the news source that a use that could be fruitful in a health care setting is the two-way delivery of goods, especially from remote sites — common in Sanford’s network of locations across the region.

“If you’re a small facility and you have a box, either a diagnostic specimen or important paperwork or whatever, and a drone can be dispatched to pick it up, that seems to have some value … for the customer as well,” he said.

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