Dr. Fatih thinks it could be only a matter of months before this drone delivery method is available to the wider UAE population
Residents of the UAE will start getting their medicines via drone delivery, as per a healthcare leader in the country. Dr. Fatih Mehmet Gul, CEO of Fakeeh University Hospital (FUH), said that with the importance Dubai places on innovation, it is only a matter of time before drone delivery of medicines becomes commonplace.
Last month, to deliver medicines to a patient’s house at Cedre Villas within a 10-kilometre radius, FUH trailed drone delivery from the healthcare facility in Dubai Silicon Oasis (DSO). Dr. Fatih thinks it could be only a matter of months before this drone delivery method is available to the wider UAE population, as the hospital is continuing tests on drone deliveries.
“For technology adoption, you need the right provider, the right government, and the right consumers,” he said. “Dubai has all three. So I think, based on the demand and response we have seen, residents could expect to get their medicines by drones very, very soon.”
Including cooperation from the UAE General Civil Aviation Authority, Dubai Health Authority, and the Museum of the Future, among others, the project that resulted from two years of trials saw the cooperation of several entities, according to Dr. Fatih.
“We have been investing in technology since we began,” said Dr. Fatih. “So when we were approached by authorities looking for a partner hospital, we immediately got on board.”
FUH’s first task was to start creating policies and procedures for drone delivery. “We also had to map delivery points, especially those in apartments and skyscrapers,” said Dr. Fatih. “Medication is a very specific product and has to be delivered to the right person. So we have to be ready to manage the circumstances. We are working hard with authorities to deliver what is needed at the right time to the right person.”
He also detailed how the hospital has been testing the delivery under various circumstances. “We had to do several tests, and we are still continuing to test,” he said. “We are testing it under different weather conditions with different types of medication and different types of storage methods.”
According to Dr. Fatih, drone delivery is the need of the hour. “Since the COVID-19 pandemic, everything has changed,” he said. “Supermarkets have gone online. Cashier points have changed. My patient is the same person who is ordering delivery from the supermarket. So they have huge expectations from their hospital as well.”
Dr. Fatih said that patients are not willing to wait for the medicines in a long queue. “They want medication delivered,” he said. “When we started robot delivery of medication, we didn’t expect a huge demand, but we were shocked at how people have adopted it and already started using it. We have to try more to understand and offer what our patients need.”
The hospital has seen immense interest in the drone delivery ever since the news of it went out. “The young people love it,” said Dr. Fatih. “Especially with the fact that the medication is packed in the hospital and then delivered to the customer without anyone else handling it, no-contact delivery has become much more popular since the pandemic.”
Suggestions are already pouring into the hospital on what they could include in the drone deliveries. “We have heard from a lot of new mothers who want items added to the scope of drone delivery,” said Dr. Fatih. “They have suggested consumer goods and more. We are very excited to see what the future holds.”
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