Innovation in the delivery of healthcare

Scott Arrol

October 21, 2020

How Swoop Aero is driving innovative and creating the future of air logistics

In the last trimester of 2020, Swoop Aero will be launching in New Zealand to transform the delivery and provision of healthcare across the country as well as complement existing digital healthcare service offerings. The integration of the Swoop Aero drone logistics platform into the local health supply chain will invariably have a positive impact on the accessibility, availability and provision of basic and primary healthcare.

The goal of Swoop Aero is to make access to the air seamless in order to foster a robust and resilient health supply chain. To date, Swoop Aero has established drone networks in Vanuatu, Malawi, Democratic Republic of Congo, Mozambique and the Australasian region, which has demonstrated the utility and value of this technology to overcome geographical barriers that underpin inequalities in access evidenced in low, middle as well as high income resource settings.

This feature is designed to provide an overview of how drone logistics can smoothly integrate into the New Zealand health supply chain and improve the efficiency of telehealth services, which have increased in use exponentially over the COVID-19 pandemic. This feature is designed to provide an overview of how drone logistics can smoothly integrate into the New Zealand health supply chain and improve the efficiency of telehealth services, which have increased in use exponentially over the COVID-19 pandemic.

Throughout the world, the growing use of telehealth is playing an important part in supporting integrated healthcare, empowering patients, improving operational efficiencies in the deliverance of care, and bringing health care “closer to home”. The integration of digitalised health platforms, including technologies such as drones,  yields immense benefits to the patterns of workforce deployment and enables the delivery of new, effective modes of healthcare delivery.

Telehealth has the potential to reduce demand for high cost services and improve the healthcare of New Zealanders with long-term and chronic conditions. New Zealand’s use of digital and Information technology in healthcare has become among the highest in the world, especially among primary care providers.

It is estimated that the National Telehealth Service receives more than 2 million calls annually, offering the potential for future video calls and on demand healthcare services. Moreover, the 2019 NZ Telehealth Survey showed an uptake in the use of telehealth services had increased considerably across all 20 district health boards (DHBs), with more than 1300 telehealth initiatives active, in pilot or planned for the public health system over the coming years.

As the global health emergency of Covid-19 continues, the race is on to stop the spread of infection, prevent doctors from being inundated and find ways to deal with the sudden demands being placed on the medical care sector. The specified restrictions placed on cities and towns throughout New Zealand, such as Auckland, has further impinged the ability of healthcare providers to transport and deliver essential health supplies to other parts of the country.

Telehealth has the potential to improve health equity, efficiency of healthcare delivery and population health. The Implementation and integration of telehealth may extend timely, convenient, affordable and high-quality general practice to patients, minimising the rate of human interference within the supply chain as well as enabling the continued, uninterrupted provision of essential healthcare commodities even during a public health emergency.

What is telehealth and its benefits?

Telehealth has the potential to reduce health inequities by minimising the effect on groups of traditional barriers to health care such as;
Geographical distance, eg living in rural or remote communities
Physical and cognitive limitations associated with age, illness or disability
Social and financial barriers (eg having personal or family responsibilities that make it difficult to attend an appointment)
Lack of information and education

Telehealth can improve access to health care services, particularly for people who are spared the cost and inconvenience of travel. Moreover, the integration of telehealth services will address inequities in access for groups such as rural communities; a patient located at a rural practice, with the assistance of their GP, can have a videoconference consultation with a specialist located elsewhere. Improved access to specialist expertise can reduce costly referrals and hospital admissions, and improve care. Telehealth can also facilitate the upskilling of rural GPs, who are more accessible to patients.

Under the New Zealand Health Strategy, the theme of ‘smart system’ takes advantage of opportunities offered by new and emerging technologies so as to improve the quality and provision of primary health care. Moreover, the Ministry of Health’s Digital Health 2020 strategy aims to progress core digital technologies in order to support a strong and equitable New Zealand health and disability system. The impetus to integrate technology-based solutions into the New Zealand health system is characterised by current the demographic and geographical inequalities that underpin the the New Zealand health system,

Harnessing Technology for Good

Medical drone networks remain an innovative and dynamic way to modernise the last mile in medical commodity deliveries, bridge the gaps in access, and enable a community- based approach to healthcare delivery and primary care. Medical drone networks have the ability to efficiently complement existing healthcare initiatives, such as acute demand management systems.

In the rural localities of New Zealand, about 14% of patients did not pick up their medicines, and even more, rationed their medicines to make them last longer due to the existing transport and infrastructural barriers that prevent patients safely and quickly accessing essential healthcare commodities.

The integration of the Swoop Aero medical drone logistics service, alongside innovative telehealth solutions, will optimise the performance of the public health system in New Zealand. The use of drone logistics to complement routine video conferencing telehealth consultations; such as through the distribution of prescribed medication or collection of blood and pathology samples will render the supply chain more efficient and agile to respond, treat and prevent general health trends experienced in the New Zealand health system. Moreover, the investments made to the technological infrastructure in the short term will invariably build a robust and resilient health supply chain in the long term, which is capable of riding out public health emergencies and natural disasters.

Listen to Eric Peck's (CEO & Co-founder of Swoop Aero) episode on Digital Health Insights with Scott Arrol

To learn more about Swoop Aero:

Contact: Head of Commercial - Sabrina Ravail [email protected]

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