Drones to speed up medical testing

December 12, 2022 6:29 am in by
Credit: Mater

A funding win is helping medical drones to take to the skies sooner.

Mater Pathology’s project with company Swoop Area has been awarded $1.8 million from the Department of Infrastructure, Transport, Regional Development and the Arts.

It will be used to build upon existing operations in Southern Queensland and deploy the world’s largest integrated drone logistics network.

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The partnership will help create Australia’s first drone-enabled pathology collection network and slash hours off the time it takes for samples to be delivered to Mater Pathology’s Springfield laboratories, enhancing the testing of urgent blood samples and products and building resilience for future pandemics.

It is anticipated that the drone fleet will collect more than 80,000 pathology samples a year from Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Community Health Service patients on Stradbroke Island, as well as other patients across Russell Island, Macleay Island, the Redlands and Hope Island on the Gold Coast.

The service is now scheduled to begin in mid-2023.

Maree Knight, Mater’s Director of Innovation, says the federal funding is a far-sighted investment in innovative health solutions.

“Mater is delighted that the Federal Government is now supporting this exciting project,” Ms Knight says.

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“There’s no doubt that drones can help to improve a range of health services for Queenslanders – and especially those living in remote or hard to access locations.”

Mater Pathology General Manager Deb Hornsby says drone delivery of medical samples from Stradbroke Island could slash up to six hours off current testing times, with all testing to be undertaken at Mater Private Hospital Springfield’s pathology labs.

“Mater Pathology will be the first pathology service in Australia to collect samples with drones – we are literally taking pathology to new heights,” Ms Hornsby says.

“Drones are safe, reliable and so much faster than ferries and cars – which means we save valuable time in diagnosing and treating vulnerable patients.”