Medical drone delivery initiative to transport lab samples in Oregon

lab sample drone delivery medical spright

Spright, the drone division of air medical service provider Air Methods, is joining forces with Oregon-based Interpath Laboratory to launch a drone delivery network that can transport lab specimens from remote and rural areas quickly.

A BVLOS 15-mile test flight conducted last week with the Yellowhawk Tribal Health Center to Interpath’s main medical laboratory location in Oregon’s Pendleton saw a Wingcopter 198 drone being used to reduce the turnaround time of critical diagnostic test results greatly.

The current process for Interpath laboratory services works something like this: Patient samples are taken throughout the day, and then they are batched together for pick-up by ground vehicles in the evening for delivery to the lab. These vehicles typically drive thousands of miles each day across the region to pick up specimens from numerous clinics, hospitals, and facilities.

In contrast, the new medical drone delivery initiative will enable samples to be picked up repeatedly and delivered to Interpath throughout the day. Not only will this improve patient satisfaction and enable healthcare providers to implement follow-up care in a timelier manner, but the green solution will also remove gasoline-powered vehicles from roads and lessens local traffic, the companies say.

Also read: What’s happening with Wing drone delivery in Dallas?

Joe Resnik, president of Spright, explains:

Many communities located in remote or rural areas lack timely and convenient access to essential medical supplies and services. We look forward to this proof-of-concept, showcasing drone delivery’s ability to solve many of healthcare’s existing access and efficiency challenges, while also improving patient care and experience.

If successful, the new drone delivery approach will allow Interpath Laboratory to transport patient samples throughout the day, rather than primarily overnight. Maximizing daytime sample processing abilities will lead to more efficient laboratory operations, while benefiting patients and healthcare providers with faster delivery of vital test results.

While Aaron Hines, CEO of Yellowhawk Tribal Health Center, points out that the initiative can help to provide high-quality, primary healthcare for the Confederated Tribes of the Umatilla Indian Reservation (CTUIR), Interpath Laboratory’s president, Tom Kennedy, says:

Medical laboratory services in rural areas frequently must invest intensive time and resources into sample pick-up. We anticipate Spright’s drone delivery service will alleviate many of the drawbacks and costs associated with automobile-based delivery.

Read more: Canada mulls using parachutes for drone delivery to indigenous communities

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