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Drone Delivery and the Uberization of Healthcare

October 27, 2017


Although computers transmit huge volumes of health data, certain information can’t travel in ones and zeroes.

For example, when your primary care doctor wants a blood panel, your filled vial has to physically get to a lab. That can be a big challenge if you live in a remote location.

That’s why researchers are looking into drone transport of blood samples, the latest example of the Uberization of healthcare.

Johns Hopkins researchers recently set a new delivery distance record for medical drones, successfully transporting human blood samples across 161 miles of Arizona desert. The samples remained cool and viable for lab analysis after landing.

“We expect that in many cases, drone transport will be the quickest, safest, and most efficient option to deliver some biological samples to a laboratory from rural or urban settings,” says Timothy Amukele, assistant professor of pathology at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine and the related paper’s senior author.

The experiment is part of the broader movement toward streamlining, accelerating, and disrupting healthcare processes to drive better outcomes. For example, we’re seeing new solutions that:

  • Get patients to the doctor (Lyft, Uber and Circulation).
  • Accelerate precision research (through companies like our partners Science Exchange and
  • Support all kinds of research by matching scientists with the hard-to-find biospecimens they need from the patients they want. (Yes, we mean the iSpecimen Marketplace.)
  • Capture and deliver specimens in near real time. (See the examples here and here.)

The common threads? Faster. More efficient. And more effective.

Time is of the essence in healthcare, so we applaud the efforts of our fellow innovators working to speed up discovery and patient care.

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