Avoiding the traffic jams: Moving lab tests by drones
An innovative study by the Government Medical Teams Division, the Hillel Yaffe Medical Center, and the Sha’ar Menashe Mental Health Center, carried out as part of the pilot program of the Israel Innovation Authority in association with the National Drones Initiative, will for the first time test the effect on the quality of the samples of transportation of lab tests by drones. The goal: to increase the efficiency of transfer of the samples between medical centers
If someone raised their eyes to the heavens last Tuesday, to the airspace above the Hillel Yaffe Medical Center and the Sha’ar Menashe Mental Health Center, they would not just have met birds gliding, but also a special drone carrying lab specimens straight to the Hillel Yaffe labs in Hadera.
This was an experiment which was part of the first study of its kind, and which received authorization by the institutional Helsinki Committee (the committee for authorization of medical research), which was carried out in cooperation with the Government Medical Teams Division, the Hillel Yaffe Medical Center, and the Sha’ar Menashe Mental Health Center, as part of the pilot program of the Israel Innovation Authority in association with the National Drones Initiative, Ayalon Highways, and the Civil Aviation Authority of Israel (CAAI).
The research goal is to examine whether it is possible to transport lab tests by drone, without harming the quality of the samples.
The study, headed by the Director of the Laboratory Department at Hillel Yaffe Medical Center, Dr. Maanit Shapira, has recruited 30 staff from Sha’ar Menashe who volunteered to supply various tests, including regular blood chemistry tests, blood count, clotting tests, and urine samples. Each test had two samples taken – one sample was transported in the usual way by a motor vehicle, and the second one was sent by drone to the Hillel Yaffe labs. The samples were packaged in an insulated package and put inside a designated container, locked by a code, which was joined to the drone which transferred the package to its point of delivery. The drones, which belong to the FlightOps company, were adapted for carrying packages of around 2 kilograms for a distance of up to 25 kilometers.
Dr. Maanit Shapira notes: “Sending lab tests between medical centers is a common process, and we provide a broad service to medical and hospitalization institutions in the area. Until now, the samples have been transported by vehicles, with it often happening that the time taken and/ or the distance have delayed the decision regarding the correct treatment for the patient. Transportation by drone is, undoubtedly, a tool, which if we can use it on a regular basis, will be good news for both the patients and the staff in the medical institutions.”
Director of the Government Medical Teams Division, Dr. Dudu Dagan: “I welcome the innovative experiment and see in this solution a promise for the future, for fast transportation of drugs, lab tests, and essential equipment for the medical centers, particularly among those in the periphery, so that all residents of the State of Israel will merit high-quality, safe, and fast treatment at all times.”