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Post-Pandemic Scenarios – XV – Tele-Health delivery

Preparing a drone for Covid-19 tests delivery in Ghana, Africa. Image credit: Zipline

As I pointed out we have plenty of technology, and more to come, for remote monitoring of our health parameters and remote diagnoses. However, this can help only up to a certain point, beyond that you need “on-site” intervention. However, this on-site doesn’t need to be the doctor site, it can still be your own! Luckily, technology can support that too and in the coming years it will become even more supportive.

Implantable drug dispensers have become available in the last few years (first experiments go back ten years ago) and are becoming more and more powerful. Some of them can be controlled wirelessly, others can be programmed, others are connected with implanted sensors (like the most recent insulin pumps).

Military is studying the possibility to have battle field intervention by robots to provide first aid. It is still at research stage but out of these researches we can expect solutions applicable to our everyday life. For sure remote surgery is on the radar to provide support to people and communities living in remote areas. We cannot imagine complex surgery performed in remote location without a human surgeon support but minor assisted surgery is becoming viable. The use of AR on site and VR from remote should be able to offer trained nurses the capability to perform limited intervention under a remote supervision.

For sure, the delivery of medicines to remote areas, on demand, is already a possibility. I was on a call organised by IEEE on the future of work virtually clustering several people in Africa and one of them was working with Zipline. This is a US company that has specialised in packages delivery using autonomous drones. They are serving remote locations in Africa delivering drugs, including vaccines. According to their website their autonomous aircrafts/drones have already flown over 8 million miles delivering over 700,000 packages.

About Roberto Saracco

Roberto Saracco fell in love with technology and its implications long time ago. His background is in math and computer science. Until April 2017 he led the EIT Digital Italian Node and then was head of the Industrial Doctoral School of EIT Digital up to September 2018. Previously, up to December 2011 he was the Director of the Telecom Italia Future Centre in Venice, looking at the interplay of technology evolution, economics and society. At the turn of the century he led a World Bank-Infodev project to stimulate entrepreneurship in Latin America. He is a senior member of IEEE where he leads the Industry Advisory Board within the Future Directions Committee and co-chairs the Digital Reality Initiative. He teaches a Master course on Technology Forecasting and Market impact at the University of Trento. He has published over 100 papers in journals and magazines and 14 books.