This is a medical kitty hawk moment. Drones are pilotless aircrafts that were initially used exclusively by the military but are now also used for various scientific purposes, public safety, and in commercial industries. The healthcare industry in particular can benefit from their technical capabilities and ease of use. Common drone applications in medicine include the provision disaster assessments when other means of access are severely restricted; delivering aid packages, medicines, vaccines, blood and other medical supplies to remote areas; providing safe transport of disease test samples and test kits in areas with high contagion; and potential for providing rapid access to automated external defibrillators for patients in cardiac arrest. Drones are also showing early potential to benefit geriatric medicine by providing mobility assistance to elderly populations using robot-like technology. Looking further to the future, drones with diagnostic imaging capabilities may have a role in assessing health in remote communities using telemedicine technology. The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) in the United States and the European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) in the European Union are some examples of legislative bodies with regulatory authority over drone usage. These agencies oversee all technical, safety, security and administrative issues related to drones. It is important that drones continue to meet or exceed the requirements specified in each of these regulatory areas. The FAA is challenged with keeping pace legislatively with the rapid advances in drone technology. This relative lag has been perceived as slowing the proliferation of drone use. Despite these regulatory limitations, drones are showing significant potential for transforming healthcare and medicine in the 21st century.
Telemedicine is fast becoming popular in many countries in the world. It has several advantages such as being cost saving and providing better access to health care in the remote areas in many parts of the world. However, it has some disadvantages as well. One of the major problems is the problem of patients' rights and confidentiality in the use of telemedicine. There are no standard guidelines and procedures in the practice of telemedicine as yet. Both the patient and the physician are unsure of the standard of practice and how to maintain confidentiality. The patient is uncertain as to how to protect her/his rights in the use of telemedicine. The issue of litigation is also unclear as to where the physician is practicing when he/she uses telemedicine. Is she/he practicing in the country where the patient is or is the physician practicing in the country of her/his origin? These issues need to be addressed urgently so that telemedicine will have standards of ethical practice and the patient's rights and confidentiality will be protected.
Developing countries are exploring the role of telehealth to overcome the challenges of providing adequate health care services. However, this process faces disparities, and no complementarity in telehealth policy development. Telehealth has the potential to transcend geopolitical boundaries, yet telehealth policy developed in one jurisdiction may hamper applications in another. Understanding such policy complexities is essential for telehealth to realize its full global potential. This study investigated 12 East Asian countries that may represent a microcosm of the world, to determine if the telehealth policy response of countries could be categorized, and whether any implications could be identified for the development of complementary telehealth policy. The countries were Cambodia, China, Hong Kong, Indonesia, Japan, Malaysia, Myanmar, Singapore, South Korea, Taiwan, Thailand, and Vietnam. Three categories of country response were identified in regard to national policy support and development. The first category was "None" (Cambodia, Myanmar, and Vietnam) where international partners, driven by humanitarian concerns, lead telehealth activity. The second category was "Proactive" (China, Indonesia, Malaysia, Singapore, South Korea, Taiwan, and Thailand) where national policies were designed with the view that telehealth initiatives are a component of larger development objectives. The third was "Reactive" (Hong Kong and Japan), where policies were only proffered after telehealth activities were sustainable. It is concluded that although complementarity of telehealth policy development is not occurring, increased interjurisdictional telehealth activity, regional clusters, and concerted and coordinated effort amongst researchers, practitioners, and policy makers may alter this trend.