Special Delivery: Drones Bringing The Doctor to You: Medicine's Next Big Thing?

NBCUniversal, Inc.

You might have heard them buzz or seen them overhead. But imagine these drones on a special medical mission.

"We are building a telehealth drone that will have the ability to go inside people's homes," said Prof. of Mechanical Engineering, University of Cincinnati, Manish Kumar, Ph.D.

It's a technology that no one has been able to accomplish before.

"That's very, very challenging from a technology point of view because once you go inside people's homes, you lose connection with the GPS," Kumar said.

University of Cincinnati engineers are designing and testing special sensors that would allow the drones to maneuver through a front door, into a patient's living room carrying a tablet or smartphone. Patients would connect with a doctor for a telehealth appointment and access a special medical kit attached to the drone so they can measure and transmit health information.

"We'll be able to get a read on their heart rate. We'll be able to know what is their oxygen levels in their body," said Director, Telehealth, UC College of Nursing, Debi Sampsel, DNP

"It's going to let, uh, all the people stay at home for, for a longer time, more independently," Kumar said.

Landing a drone safely in your living room, these researchers hope it will be all science and not fiction.

Researchers said the prototype is ready and tested for use in people's homes. It will be ideal for patients who live in rural areas miles or hours away.

In the United States, one in four people does not have a primary care provider or easily accessible health center. The U.S. Office of Disease Prevention and Health Promotion says increasing access to routine care is critical for improving health.

Contact Us