Drones in Arctic Healthcare?Greenland Pilot Project Now Underway-Looking at the Arctic Circle

A drone used during a pilot project in Nuuk. The type selected for the Greenland pilot project is the hybrid fuel / battery model, as the battery drains quickly in the cold. (Courtesy: A-tech SYN)

This month, Greenland launched a project to see drone ferry medicines and diagnostic samples between the capital Nuuk and a small settlement.

Falck, a Danish company that provides health, emergency and ambulance services, is working with the Greenland Health Service on a project to understand how technology can be integrated into remote care delivery. It states that it will lay an important foundation for.

“This has incredible potential “Collaboration with Greenland’s Health Services,” said Nicolai Sondergaard Laugesen, Falck’s development director and head of the drone project, in a telephone interview.

“The environment is very different from Denmark, Sweden, Germany, etc. One of the reasons I wanted to do this project is to learn how to operate in such an Arctic environment.”

No one in the government could ask for comment on this story, but in a statement, Greenland’s health services said the drone project is an important step in providing better service to the island’s small community.

“We are excited about how drones can contribute to our healthcare system and help citizens who live far away from the nearest hospital,” said Ella Skifte, chief nurse of the service. Said in a statement. “It was We are currently working on ensuring a setup that works well with the workflows and processes that our healthcare system has already built. “

“Strengthen health efforts between villages and cities”

Drones will be tested in the city of Sermersooq, including the capital Nook.

File photo of Nuuk in Greenland. According to health care providers, drones could give people in a small community in Greenland quick access to the capital’s health resources. (Via Emil Helms / Ritzau Scanpix / Reuters)

There, they run between the settlements with the capital, Queen Ingrid Hospital. Kapisillit and Qeqertar suatsiaat.

Capisilit has a population of 52 and is about 75 km northeast of Nuuk and can only be reached by sea or air. Qeqertarsuatsiaat is about 130km south of Nuuk, inhabited by 169 people and not accessible by road.

“Greenland’s geography and residence patterns pose special conditions and challenges for citizens’ access to medical services,” said Gert Mulvad, regional physician and chairman of the Greenland Health Research Center.

“We look forward to gathering knowledge from the project, which will help strengthen our health efforts between the settlement and the city.”

Speed ​​up diagnosis and treatment

Greenland doctors say drones can play an important role in improving access to the health system and improving health outcomes.

Yesper Olesen, senior regional physician in the city of Sermersooq, said:

“”We look forward to seeing how drones can help reduce the experience of distance in our area and hopefully improve our health. “

File photo of Queen Ingridip Napalsima Bisua, Queen Ingrid Hospital in Nuuk, Greenland. This hospital is part of a drone pilot project that will run until November 2022. (Via EmilHelms / Ritzau Scanpix / AFP, Getty Images)

Integrate technology into current systems

Hybrid batteries / fuel drones were chosen because the Arctic weather drains the battery very quickly.

It can travel up to 500km and operates at temperatures up to -20C.

According to Laugesen, the trial period isn’t just about technology features.

“It’s not just whether the technology works and the drone can reach point A to point B,” he said.

“It’s how easy it is to integrate into the current medical system. Who will receive the drones in the village? Who will receive them at the Nuuk hospital? Lots of things you have to think about Yes, Greenland’s medical services ultimately determine what is best for them.

The drone pilot project will run until November 2022.

Write a letter to Eilís Quinn at eilis.quinn (at) cbc.ca

Related articles from around the north:

Canada: New Canadian Cancer Strategy Focuses on Inuit, First Nations, Metis People, CBC News

Finland: Finnish elderly care needs to be funded to meet Scandinavian standards: Researcher, Yle News

Sweden: Drone delivery of Covid-19 test piloted in Radio Sweden, a rural area in northern Sweden

America: Alaskan Indigenous Students Gain hands-on medical experience at Alaska Public Media Nursing Camps

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