Medical drones reality for Bay islanders

An artistist impression of the new service.

Drones will soon be part of helping care for older Bay island residents as well as speeding up access to pathology services through partnerships supported by Redland City Council.

Redland City Mayor Karen Williams said Council was taking a leading role in harnessing the power and flexibility of the latest drone technology to improve services for island residents as well as protecting Redlands Coast unique environment.

It follows an Australia-first partnership, which will next year see pathology samples shuttled from the Moreton Bay islands to Mater Private Hospital Springfield’s pathology laboratories, significantly reducing the time it takes for patients to be diagnosed.

“Redland City Council has engaged with Global Community Resourcing, which has been involved in a number of government-funded research projects over the past few years on the Southern Moreton Bay Islands, and aims to overcome issues that seniors can face living on our islands,” Cr Williams said.

“This has included the use of smart technologies including drones and in-home monitoring to support people to live as independently as they can in what really are remote communities.

“This, along with Mater’s partnership with Australian drone logistics company Swoop Aero to greatly improve pathology services to our islands, will have massive benefits, especially for older island residents.

“In the meantime, Council is also looking at a potential partnership to trial a unique high-endurance drone with the capacity to cover long distances.

“This offers great scope for a city such as ours which includes island communities as well as hundreds of kilometres of remote coastline and often inaccessible wetlands.

“We see opportunities here to improve Council’s ability to care for our waterways and manage seasonal issues such as mosquitoes.”

Cr Williams said Council was assisting innovators in this area to access Federal Government support through its Emerging Aviation Technology Partnership.

Global Community Resourcing Director of Projects and Research Anne Livingstone said her company’s work with Redlands Coast’s island communities aimed to ensure older people were not as vulnerable during times of emergency.

“Through our technology, pressing local issues can be managed and resolved. This includes safety, security, scheduling of social services, effective management of chronic diseases and effective use of local resources,” Ms Livingstone said.

“Our work in this area has identified new and emerging technology, including Smart Home Technology, Artificial Intelligence and Collaborative Intelligence.”

Ms Livingstone encouraged people who are interested in finding out more, or being involved in similar projects, to join the Community Care Smart Assistive Technology Collaborative.

This is an internationally focused collaboration specifically on the role innovation will play in the future of more technology enhanced services and support. Join at http://satcommunity.com.au/auth/register.

Mater Pathology General Manager Deb Hornsby said using a network of 10 Swoop Aero drones to shuttle pathology sample to Mater Private Hospital Springfield would slash hours off the time it currently took by traditional transport means.

“From next year, drones will be flying pathology samples safely across Moreton Bay, saving hours and leading to quicker diagnoses and treatment for island residents and reducing unnecessary movement of residents to hospitals.

“This capability will service the GP and patient community with improved collections of tests on the islands, even for those with two-hour results.

“We are also looking into how the drone service may be extended further, such as the potential to deliver medicines to aged care facilities on the islands,” Ms Hornsby said.

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