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Drones to deliver telehealth devices to households

Researchers from the University of Cincinnati are turning to drones to deliver the required devices to make telehealth appointments possible. The group is looking for ways to allow families without smart devices or a decent internet connection to access telehealth.

While telehealth appointments are great for those who can’t leave their home or aren’t allowed to, like many of us during the pandemic, two major issues can prevent someone from accessing them — a device and internet connection.

This is where the researchers hope the drones will come into play. The drones will have protective guards around the propellers and be able to travel through your house safely. They will have their own internet connection, a camera, and a screen to let the patient talk to the doctor and vise versa.

The drones will also be equipped with a payload bay that will allow medicines and other equipment to be delivered during the appointment, taking it further than current telehealth appointments currently allow for. This will allow for a range of self-treatments and exams to be done with direction from the doctor.

While you might think everyone has access to a smart device and an internet connection, the researchers found that many people don’t or don’t have to know how to operate one of these devices. The drone eradicates this reliance and means nothing needs to be set up before the visit.

Dr. Debi Sampsel, another inventor and director of telehealth, shared:

The one thing with the drone is that there doesn’t have to be any type of device in the person’s home. It’s all hands-free. The drone will be able to produce that two-way communication. That’s one of the things that’s invaluable when you are looking at the fact that everybody does not have the wherewithal or dexterity to download apps and create that two-way communication with a device.

The drone is still in the prototype phase and currently costs about $1,500 in parts. While details about this project are still pending, there’s no doubt that telehealth is here to stay – and it needs to be adjusted to work for more people, but are drones the way to do it?

Check out some of the other cool ways drones are being explored to do more.

Photo: Joseph Fuqua II

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Avatar for Josh Spires Josh Spires

Josh started in the drone community in 2012 with a drone news Twitter account. Over the years Josh has gained mass exposure from his aerial photography work and spends his days writing drone content for DroneDJ as well as pursuing his business.