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.