is upwards

Drones to deliver QLD faster medical testing

Drones to deliver faster medical testing for Queenslanders


11 October 2022, Brisbane, Australia: Integrated drone logistics networks will soon be shuttling pathology samples from the Moreton Bay islands to Mater Pathology testing labs under a new partnership between Mater and Australian integrated drone logistics company Swoop Aero.

The initiative will slash up to six hours off the time it takes for samples – including vital blood tests and COVID-19 swabs – to reach Mater for testing.

The integrated bi-directional drone logistics network is expected to collect more than 80,000 pathology samples a year from Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Community Health Service patients and other patients living on Stradbroke Island, Russell Island, Macleay Island and other Moreton Bay islands serviced by Mater Pathology, as well as the Redlands and Hope Island on the Gold Coast.

Mater Group’s use and leveraging of the Swoop Aero drone logistics service underpins the next giant leap in how essential supplies and services are delivered. Swoop Aero commenced operations in Goondiwindi, Queensland in 2021to transport routine prescriptions to remote patients.

The partnership between Swoop Aero and Mater Group represents Australia’s first drone-enabled pathology collection network. Swoop Aero’s integrated drone logistics bridge the gaps in society’s infrastructure — to realise the next giant leap in how essential supplies and services are delivered.

“Depending on ferry services, it can take up to six hours to get samples for testing back to Mater from Straddie and the other islands,” said Deb Hornsby, General Manager of Mater Pathology.

“With the huge increase in testing caused by COVID, there was a pressing need to speed up our collection services – and that’s when we approached Swoop Aero.”

“Drones are safe, reliable and so much faster than ferries and cars – which means we save valuable time in diagnosing and treating vulnerable patients.”

Since Swoop Aero’s founding in 2017, Swoop Aero has obtained advanced operational approvals in 14 countries and has achieved 20,000 operational flights.

Following FAA type certification, Swoop Aero’s fleet of Kite ™ aircraft will travel distances of more than 175 kilometres on a single battery charge across the Brisbane area, carrying up to 10 lbs of medical cargo.

“We have a big vision for Queensland,” Eric Peck, Swoop Aero’s CEO said.

“By leveraging the most advanced technology-based platform on the market, Swoop Aero will unlock the skies to enable Mater to drive forward the next era of pathology transportation.”
Mater and Swoop Aero are seeking federal support for the pilot project through an Emerging Aviation Technology Partnership (EATP) Grant. If successful, drones will be flying across Moreton Bay in 2023 and future initiatives could include the delivery of medicines to aged care homes by Mater Pharmacy.

Swoop Aero drones operate well below commercial aircraft altitudes and flight path approvals will be obtained from the Civil Aviation Safety Authority.

The drones would land in Greater Springfield for testing in the Mater Pathology laboratories at Mater Private Hospital Springfield.

“Mater is at the forefront of healthcare innovation in Queensland,” said Maree Knight, Mater’s Director of Innovation.

“The use case for pathology-sample drone transport is clear and will alleviate pressures on the health system to deliver timely, effective and quality healthcare.”