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Health Tech: Cerba tests biological samples transportation with drones

It's a first in Italy, and in the next future the company wants to extend its "drone sampling" all over the country


Italy and France completed, for the first time, successful flights of drones transporting actual untested biological samples. In both cases, the flights were organized by local Cerba HealthCare affiliates and offer - the company says - new alternatives to transport biological samples that combine low carbon footprint, shorter time-to-results for patients and prescribers, "while allowing every patient to benefit from the analytical quality of large capacity laboratory platforms in a timely manner".

"Cerba HealthCare Italia performed the first drone flight with biological samples embedded, involving some of the medical centers around the Metropolitan City of Milan, specifically in the two sites located in the cities of Opera and Rozzano", said Stefano Massaro, Chief Executive Officer of Cerba HealthCare Italia. "It's the first air transport of blood samples not yet tested, experimented by the use of a drone. The result of this adventure makes us confident and eager to pursue the path of innovation as a landmark of a leading quality service for patients", he added.

Italian flights departed from Cerba HealthCare Italia sampling points in Opera and Rozzano and were operated by Nimbus, the company which also designed and built the drones and the sample containment system, under the supervision of D-Flight, the ENAV Group company that provides drone traffic management services, and ENAC (Italian Civil Aviation Authority).

The flights were performed in BVLOS mode, without visual contact of the pilot with the drone, making the experiment as close as possible to the real conditions that will characterize these flights in the future. Cerba HealthCare Italia aims to bring, in the coming years, this "distributed samples collection" scenario all over the country, becoming a point of reference for Italy's local communities.

In fact, the company underlines that the project's truly innovative aspect is in combining a proximity Health Service, that can be easily reached by the patient, with the clinical quality guaranteed by performing the analyses in a large laboratory. "It is about shortening the time between the taking of the sample and the outcome of the analysis - explained Michele De Chirico, Chief Operation Officer of Cerba HealthCare Italia - but not only that: it's also about improving patient care in more remote settings that are less easily reached by traditional logistics".

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