Lately, the term drone has been buzzing around the Internet, especially after Amazon announced its drone project to drop off packages in 30 minutes or less. Amazon’s project will not be implemented until 2015, but there are already valid fears and skepticism on what the future of drones could bring, including thoughts of Orwell’s “1984” and a loss of individual liberty. Drones have been around for a while with different military and environmental uses, but never has there been as much chatter as there is now.
We all know with new ideas there are pros and cons, especially experimentation with drones dropping off your highly anticipated packages. However, the prospect brings to my mind another intriguing idea — the use of drones in the medical field. If a drone can drop off a package at your front door, what about dropping off your medications or bringing back lab specimens?
Five years ago, NewScientist reported on a similar type of application. Robot spy planes were converted into medical couriers that collected lab specimens from remote villages and cities in South Africa not always accessible during the rainy weather. These planes were guided on a certain path, the specimens were then collected and analyzed, and then the results were passed back via a text message.
This same type of application could be used with drones to access rural and remote areas within the U.S., and orders and results can be passed along via systems using HL7 and kept updated almost in real-time.
Of course, there are myriad cons to this pipe dream that include including security and compliance with HIPAA, but we could be heading towards some version of this future.
Just imagine the doorbell or a knock at the door and a drone is outside to provide you with your medicine. This drone includes a retina scanner that scans your eye to confirm your identity. Under the scanner is a computer screen with a live video chat with a pharmacist who reviews the medication and its usage. Once you sign the electronic signature pad, the meds appear from a secured box the drone is carrying. You collect the meds, and the drone goes on its way for its next delivery.
It is no longer science fiction. The future is coming. Resistance is futile!
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