The COVID-19 pandemic has required us all to be innovative, whether with our indoor activities and hobbies or our approach to self-care and well-being. Researchers and tech leaders have also felt the call to action on addressing problems that the pandemic has presented or unearthed. One critical area that requires significant improvement is access to medical services, especially in rural areas. New on the scene to address this serious problem is a team of University of Cincinnati inventors. As UC News reports, they have created a new telehealth drone to improve access to medical services, regardless of location.
The inventors have developed a semi-autonomous prototype drone that can be dispatched directly to people’s homes. These drones have cameras and a display screen, so patients can talk to their health care professionals, as well as a first-aid kit to deliver supplies. It even has the capability to collect self-administered lab tests that can be returned to the doctor. The engineering behind the drones is what is driving its success; the drones are big enough to carry the medicine or supplies, but small enough to navigate their path. Researchers are now working on how to make the drones independent of human help, thereby allowing them to be fully autonomous.
These drones are sure to change algorithms, design, and even capabilities. But what remains is the need to cover the gap between rural and urban populations when it comes to medical services. Currently only 11% of doctors serve rural populations. Given this fact, paired with the troubling statistic that one in four people do not have a primary care provider, telehealth drones stand to significantly change the lives of many. Although this technology has been in the works for years, UC News reports that COVID-19 has truly shined a spotlight on the valuable role telehealth can play in health care.
Want to keep up with recent research that’s relevant to aging services? Use the form below to subscribe to our monthly InvestigAge email.
Miller M. New UC telehealth drone makes house calls. UC News. https://www.uc.edu/news/articles/2021/03/virtual-medicine–new-uc-telehealth-drone-makes-house-calls.html. March 15, 2021. Accessed May 10, 2020