How Drones Could Save Millions of Lives

September 9, 2019

Drone technology is increasingly being used to provide remote care, supplement emergency responses, and generally decrease the time it takes for people to get the medical attention that they need. Cheddar explores the technology and some of the players who are advancing the field.


FEMALE_1: [MUSIC]. On April 18th, 2019,

FEMALE_1: a woman who had been patiently waiting

FEMALE_1: eight years for her lifesaving kidney,

FEMALE_1: finally got the call.

FEMALE_1: Trina Glispy, a 44-year old nursing assistant was one of

FEMALE_1: 75,000 people cleared for surgery

FEMALE_1: and on the wait-list for the necessary organs.

FEMALE_1: But she was the only person to

FEMALE_1: have her organs delivered by a drone.

FEMALE_1: While the drone only flew

FEMALE_1: three miles from where it was built at

FEMALE_1: the University of Maryland to

FEMALE_1: the patient at a nearby hospital,

FEMALE_1: it was a vital first step towards

FEMALE_1: the use of drones in the future of medicine.

FEMALE_1: Every second that goes by after

FEMALE_1: an organ is removed from the body,

FEMALE_1: is a second wasted.

FEMALE_1: The organ goes through something called cold ischemia,

FEMALE_1: which results in irreversible damage to the tissue.

FEMALE_1: Dr. Joseph Scalia, the leader of

FEMALE_1: the University of Maryland team that

FEMALE_1: invented the organ delivering drone,

FEMALE_1: recalled a time in which it took

FEMALE_1: an organ 29 hours to reach his hospital,

FEMALE_1: and he felt it was time for a change.

FEMALE_1: Unmanned aerial vehicles that can deliver

FEMALE_1: emergency medical supplies are already in use,

FEMALE_1: but scientists are looking further.

FEMALE_1: Drones could be used as ambulances

FEMALE_1: and even flying robotic surgeons.

FEMALE_1: They could be responsible for saving your life.

FEMALE_2: As global demographic shifts and longer lifespans

FEMALE_2: and modern lifestyles change medical and consumer habits,

FEMALE_2: the future of medicine and health care is evolving,

FEMALE_2: and creating opportunities for investors.

FEMALE_2: Chatters exploration into how demographics and

FEMALE_2: social change are impacting health care and

FEMALE_2: the future of investing is brought to you by iShares.

FEMALE_1: Drones have already been making

FEMALE_1: waves in some parts of the world.

FEMALE_1: In late 2018,

FEMALE_1: Ghanaian lawmakers approved the deployment

FEMALE_1: of drones for medical supply delivery,

FEMALE_1: and they've partnered with a US firm to do it.

FEMALE_1: Zipline in Ghana signed a four-year agreement allowing

FEMALE_1: the scheduled delivery of

FEMALE_1: critical medical supplies to remote areas via drone.

FEMALE_1: It's projected to save over 13 million lives,

FEMALE_1: and it's already saved at least one.

FEMALE_1: Recently, a very sick seven-year old boy

FEMALE_1: in Ghana was admitted to a hospital.

FEMALE_1: He was in need of O negative blood as soon as possible.

FEMALE_1: The staff would not have been able to help him in time.

FEMALE_1: But with one WhatsApp message,

FEMALE_1: a drone was at the hospital with

FEMALE_1: the necessary supplies in 15 minutes,

FEMALE_1: parachuting down a box with the blood transfusion inside.

FEMALE_1: The medicine comes from a large stockroom nearby with

FEMALE_1: everything from yellow fever vaccines to anti-venom.

FEMALE_1: In the future, Zipline aims to carry out

FEMALE_1: 150 flights a day to over 500 hospitals in Ghana.

FEMALE_1: Today, there are 270 cases of malaria per 1,000 people.

FEMALE_1: Despite the fact that malaria is curable,

FEMALE_1: making this deal with Zipline crucial in saving lives.

FEMALE_2: But drones are doing more than

FEMALE_2: just dropping off supplies.

FEMALE_2: They're here to directly save your life as well.

FEMALE_1: In February of 2013,

FEMALE_1: an EF4 tornado tore

FEMALE_1: through Hattiesburg Mississippi. [MUSIC].

Speaker 1: Emergency service response time was severely

Speaker 1: delayed and local doctors took notice.

Speaker 1: [NOISE] Dr. Italos Subbarao,

Speaker 1: got to work on an unprecedented system.

Speaker 1: It's called HIRO, which stands

Speaker 1: for Health Integrated Rescue Operations.

Speaker 1: Each drone carries an AED,

Speaker 1: as well as medicine and

Speaker 1: other supplies that can be remotely unlocked.

Speaker 1: Plans also include an augmented reality interface

Speaker 1: to connect bystanders with a

Speaker 1: remote on call doctor until

Speaker 1: emergency vehicles and personnel arrive on scene.

Speaker 1: The team has been developing

Speaker 1: kits for the past four years.

Speaker 1: The drones could weigh in between 2 and 20 pounds,

Speaker 1: depending on the service they'd be providing.

Speaker 1: The heaviest kits could be vital in saving

Speaker 1: victims of mass casualty incidents.

Speaker 1: The smaller kits would be more helpful in search and

Speaker 1: rescue scenarios or harder to reach areas.

Speaker 1: Teams have been developing drones

Speaker 1: like these across the world,

Speaker 1: but some firms are looking to

Speaker 1: expand that cargo to people.

Speaker 1: The design firm, Argo design

Speaker 1: has created a solution for jam

Speaker 1: packed cities where ambulances can take

Speaker 1: over 10 minutes to reach a patient in need.

Speaker 1: It's fittingly called a drone ambulance.

Speaker 1: The concept proposes a car sized

Speaker 1: UAV that can be driven by a pilot,

Speaker 1: GPS or a combination of

Speaker 1: both with the ability to land in tight spaces.

Speaker 1: Something like this could cost

Speaker 1: one million dollars to create,

Speaker 1: which is more expensive than

Speaker 1: an ambulance but still cheaper than a medical helicopter.

Speaker 1: Another concept that can become a reality,

Speaker 1: drones that perform surgery.

Speaker 1: Imagine having a drone hover down

Speaker 1: above you and perform emergency surgery.

Speaker 1: It sounds like something out of a sci fi movie,

Speaker 1: but the reality is that we

Speaker 1: already mastered the main two components.

Speaker 1: The da vinci robot,

Speaker 1: famously stitched the great back

Speaker 1: together with a surgeon controlling the robot.

Speaker 1: Have you seen our video on it?

Speaker 1: The robot is not replacing surgeons,

Speaker 1: but rather extending their capabilities.

Speaker 1: This technology combined with

Speaker 1: drones could create a world where

Speaker 1: emergency surgeries can happen

Speaker 1: quickly reducing casualties.

Speaker 1: Surgical robots are on the rise.

Speaker 1: By 2020, the surgical robot sales are

Speaker 1: expected to double to 6.4 billion dollars.

Speaker 1: Does this sound crazy to you?

Speaker 1: Well, just take a look back at

Speaker 1: the past 50 years and see just how far medicine has come.

Speaker 1: Approximately 2,300 heart transplants

Speaker 1: are performed each year in the United States.

Speaker 1: Scientists have developed

Speaker 1: brain controlled robotic neuro prosthetics

Speaker 1: and even restored sight for the blind.

Speaker 1: Medicine as we've come to know it,

Speaker 1: will inevitably change as

Speaker 1: technologies continue to advance.

Speaker 1: And with these advancements, comes better care,

Speaker 1: giving more people a better chance at survival.

Speaker 1: Technology is elevating health care in

Speaker 1: more ways than just UAV's and remote medicine.

Speaker 1: It is also playing a major role in

Speaker 1: the fields of immunology and genomics.

Speaker 1: For example, scientists are

Speaker 1: utilizing biodegradable nano sized drones to deliver

Speaker 1: a special type of healing molecule to fat deposits

Speaker 1: in arteries as a way to prevent heart attacks.

Speaker 1: And researchers are working on

Speaker 1: ways to leverage genetic tests to

Speaker 1: diagnose viral infections early

Speaker 1: before they become epidemics.

Speaker 1: Making treatments more effective and helping

Speaker 1: health workers curb the spread of deadly diseases.

Speaker 1: All of these medical advancements are

Speaker 1: not only providing better care for patients,

Speaker 1: but can also offer opportunities for investors.

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Speaker 1: [MUSIC]