The use of medical drones and what it means for Doctors of Nursing Practice
Over 58 million Americans live in primary care shortage areas – regions with little or no access to medical centers or primary care providers such as dentists, medical doctors or doctors of nursing practice– a number that is projected to increase over the next several years due to population growth and expanded health insurance.
In mid-July, Virginians living in the mountains of Central Appalachia experienced a milestone in medical history as the first federally approved medical drone was used to deliver 24 packages of medical supplies to a free health care clinic for 3,000 residents in Wise Country, Virginia, one of the U.S.’s most impoverished regions.
The use of medical drones could offer a breakthrough in the issue of access to medicine in primary care shortage areas, supplying limited-access patients with resources from antivenin for snakebites to medical prescriptions for patients with illnesses/diseases ranging from a sore throat to diabetes.
This new technology could affect access to healthcare not just on a national level, but on a global level as well. Medical drones continue to be field tested in other countries, and have already been used successfully to deliver aid packages after the Haitian earthquake in 2012.
Professionals in the health field see a clear use for these drones in the future for scenarios ranging from house deliveries of prescription medicine to disaster relief and transmitting blood supplies.
So what does this mean for nurse practitioners already in, or preparing to enter, the medical field?
As a result of the Affordable Care Act and increased access to health insurance, the need for DNPs has increased greatly with patient population, and with new technology such as medical drones, the ability of DNPs to serve patients across geographical barriers has also increased greatly, with the hope of being able to write prescriptions for medical drones on the horizon.
The future looks bright for those pursuing their Doctorate of Nursing Practice degree, with both need and resources in the field growing at rapid speed.