LITTLE ROCK, Ark. – An Arkansas doctor played a crucial role in the first-ever autonomous drone insulin delivery.
UAMS Medical Professor Dr. Spyridoula Maraka specializes in medical care accessibility and has worked on a number of projects involving technology.
“What can we do when we have patients that their lives are depending on critical medications,” said Dr. Maraka.
When Dr. Derek O’Keeffe began to work on this method of delivery with the use of a drone, he asked her to join his team on the project.
“This kind of technology is going to become more common initially for things like these emergency deliveries of blood or medications…and eventually for the more routine stuff,” explained Dr. O’Keeffe.
O’Keeffe is based out of Galway, Ireland, which is why he worked to have the test flight there.
He explained many of the regulations you find in Ireland when it comes to drones you will find here in the States.
The team completed the first-ever successful out of the line of sight insulin delivery. The drone flew about 12 miles to its delivery location without a pilot. A delivery a year in the making.
“When we were first developing the idea every time there was a new obstacle we had to overcome but to see that come through it is so satisfying,” said Dr. Maraka.
Dr. Maraka said this success in access to care is just the beginning.
“Drone technologies can give us endless possibilities to connect with our community even in the most remote areas or even during extreme weather,” she said.
Both doctors believe this technology could be used after a natural disaster to help those in need of life-saving medications. Eventually, both believe this could move into a mainstream delivery process for medications.