UCSD Health drone program aims to reduce test result wait times

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SAN DIEGO — A new drone pilot program at UC San Diego Health aims to cut down on the time patients spend in the hospital or waiting for results.

UCSD Health is the second medical campus in the country to use a drone to transport medical samples, supplies and documents. The drone carries the items in a locked box and bypasses traffic and ground issues to get the items to their destination sooner.

“We have points that are kind of a couple miles apart and you know on a normal day it might only take five minutes to go from point A to point B but on a tough time, rush hour or something like, that it could take 30 minutes and that 30 minutes makes a big deal when you’re waiting on the results of tests that are impacting how physicians are going to treat a particular patient,” said Chief Innovation Officer Matthew Jenusaitis.

Currently the program consists of one drone that transports items only between Jacobs Medical Center, Moores Cancer Center and the Center for Advanced Laboratory Medicine, which are all located in La Jolla. But there are hopes for expansion.

“When you think about the future there’s a lot of potential opportunities,” Jenusaitis said. “We could potentially be using this to fly samples from our clinic 20 miles away from here in Rancho Bernardo to the hospital so really what we’re trying to do now is gather all the information so we can unlock the possibilities for the future.”

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