Research Summary

The objective of this study is to enhance our understanding of the key considerations to be addressed to ensure drone technologies deployed across the health system are used in an equitable, ethical, appropriate, and socially responsible manner.

Drones represent exciting potential for increasing the capacities and efficiency of healthcare systems. Often characterized as a “leapfrog” technology drones are widely lauded for their capacity to bypass many of the challenges to healthcare delivery that previously impeded access to healthcare services, particularly in isolated or hard to reach areas. Drones are poised to speed up the retrieval and delivery of life-saving products such as vaccines or blood packs and increase access to a range of healthcare supplies, expertise, and procedures in hard-to-reach rural and remote communities. Application of drone technology for healthcare purposes in North America is still in its infancy; much of the existing scholarly literature in North America is theoretical and focuses on how applications of drone technology could be structured within healthcare.

 Supported by the Interdisciplinary Development Initiative (IDI) our intention is to construct a multidisciplinary team of Western University researchers, community and industry partners (Donelle, Hiebert, Nouvet, & Haque) in support of research (SSHRC, CIHR, Grand Challenges, and other) grant success focused on “Drones for Health” in 2021 and 2022. All grant applications will focus on the social, ethical, and governance considerations for the design, health system integration, practical implementation, and development of community engagement in drone technologies for health uses. We intend for our research in this area to inform and extend knowledge regarding theoretical, social, and ethical issues, as well as respond in an evidence informed manner to industry needs and concerns regarding the application of drones for health purposes.


Brie O’Sullivan

PhD Candidate, Health Information Science, Western University
Brie is a PhD candidate at Western University in the Health Information Science program.
Brie’s research focuses on the use of medical drone technology in public health systems.

Dr. Anwar Haque

Assistant Professor, Department of Computer Science, Western University
Dr. Haque is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Computer Science at Western University.
Anwar is currently the director of the Western Information & Networking Group (WING) Lab, where he conducts cutting-edge research in emerging network technologies and smart systems.

Dr. Bradley Hiebert

Research Associate, Arthur Labatt Family School of Nursing, Western University
Dr. Hiebert is a Research Associate in the Arthur Labatt Family School of Nursing at Western University focusing on rural health, masculinity, and how
digital health technologies (drones) impact health and health information behaviours.

Dr. Elysée Nouvet

Assistant Professor, School of Global Health Studies, Western University
Dr. Nouvet is an Assistant Professor in the School of Global Health Studies at Western University, a medical anthropologist, and a member of the
Humanitarian Health Ethics research group at McMaster University.
Lorie Donelle

Dr. Lorie Donelle

Associate professor and research chair, Arthur Labatt Family School of Nursing, Western University
Lorie Donelle was inspired to launch Health in All Data from her research across health literacy, equity, and digital health.
She is an Associate Professor at Western University in the Arthur Labatt Family School of Nursing and a Scientist with the Lawson Health Research Institute in London Ontario and is an inaugural member of Fellows of the Canadian Academy of Nursing (FCAN). She holds an endowed research chair – the Arthur Labatt Family Chair in Nursing focused on digital health.  Dr. Donelle’s research addresses health promotion specific to issues of health & digital health literacy(s), social justice, and digital health.  Her research investigates technology-enabled models of healthcare and the relationships between health information technologies and client/clinician health practices. Dr. Donelle contributes to International and national advisory committees for health literacy and digital health. 

Gina Uppal

Health in All Data Core Team
Gina leads partnerships and community engagement strategy for the Health in All Data community. Gina is a communications and community engagement expert,
having led cross-sector initiatives at large organizations, regional nonprofits, and grassroots community networks for over 10 years. Gina is currently the co-founder of The On Canada Project, where part of her work involves leading a learning design studio to help leaders embed justice and equity into their work learning experiences that help people unpack complex topics. As the world of work evolves, supporting this learning journey is critical for building a culture that allows diverse perspectives to shine. This not only leads to better products and services, but creates transformative experiences for people to grow personally and professionally. Gina grounds her work with an academic background in health equity and public policy from Western University and American University (Washington, DC) where she studied as a Killam Fulbright scholar. She combines this with a decade of experience leading conversations about equity, justice, and systems change in healthcare, nonprofit, and technology sectors. Gina loves creating spaces for leaders to learn, build relationships, and steward systems initiatives.

Muhammad Zakar

MSc Candidate, Department of Computer Science, Western University
Muhammad is a MSc candidate at Western University in the Department of Computer Science.