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UK: AiResponse Consortium to showcase “drones for good” medical deliveries

By Chris Stonor

A new “AiResponse Consortium” led by Intelsius has been set up to showcase the advantages of using drone technology to support current UK healthcare professionals and processes, reports a press release.

Working closely with the NHS as part of a wider consortium of academic, tech, and local government partners (click on ‘For more information’ link below), the consortium aims to develop, test and implement this ‘drones for good’ solution “to address the challenges facing the NHS when delivering test samples and medical supplies and will strive to develop faster, safer, and more economically viable transport solutions.”

“Crucially”, the release says, “This is a user-led project, not an out of the box solution that asks the user to fit around it.” Intelsius and the wider consortium are to place the needs of the end-users at the core of the development process, with the aim of delivering a well-suited solution for multiple healthcare settings.

With drone technology already in use across numerous other sectors, and employed for healthcare purposes in other countries, the release continues, “We aim to deliver a first of its kind solution for the healthcare sector in the UK that significantly impacts the ability of healthcare providers to streamline and improve their sample transport and medical supply chain procedures.”

The Consortium are to closely work with Bedfordshire Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust and Milton Keynes University Hospital to better understand their specific needs, as well as a wider coalition of technical experts in the development and implementation of the SOP, and the drone technology itself.

Intelsius Technical Director, Jens Mangelsen, said, “From the very beginning, we knew it was essential that the development of this novel SOP was led by its intended users: healthcare providers. That’s why we’re working closely with the NHS to better understand their challenges, involving them at every step of the journey to ensure a truly industry changing solution.”

Jens Mangelsen

He continued, “We’re also incredibly proud to be joined on this journey by some highly skilled, specialist partners that’ll ensure we can secure the best outcome for this project”.

The project has gained funding on the back of the Covid-19 pandemic, as the deployment of drones has successfully shown “it can support social distancing, limits cross-contamination, and reduces medical and logistics staff exposure to unnecessary health risks.” Speed, manpower, social distancing, and cost are all key drivers behind the move to implement drone technology within the UK’s hospitals.

While this only represents the replacement of just 10 percent of the estimated 2.3 million annual medical deliveries by ambulances and other forms of transport, with carbon neutral electrically powered drones, most importantly, UK carbon dioxide emissions will reduce by 7,200 tonnes annually if this moveis fully implemented. Also, the removal of 230,000 road journeys per year will make a significant contribution to reducing road congestion.

The release concludes, “Beyond being environmentally friendly, and reducing strain on infrastructure, it’s the impact on key healthcare workers and patients that form the central benefits to this project.”

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