Private Medical Operator Launches Innovative Drone Transport for Lab Samples

MedLife has announced today that it is investing in a groundbreaking project by introducing a drone-based transportation system for laboratory biological samples. With this initiative, carried out in partnership with the Australian company Skyy Network, MedLife becomes the first private medical operator in Romania and Central and Eastern Europe to use drones for transporting laboratory samples. It is also one of the few medical operators in Europe that routinely transports biological samples over medium and long distances.

Initially, the transport services are available within a 4-town radius in Bihor County (Aleșd, Beiuș, Marghita, Salonta) to Oradea and Arad, with plans to expand the project to the entire healthcare network throughout the country in the near future. Covering a distance of 120 km, the route between Oradea and Arad is currently the longest drone flight route for medical samples in Europe, with the journey taking less than an hour.

MedLife is implementing this project in partnership with Skyy Network, a company based in Australia with extensive expertise in both piloted and autonomous aviation. Skyy Network provides drone integration services and solutions for businesses. The project has received approvals from the Romanian Civil Aeronautical Authority and the Public Health Directorates in Bihor and Arad Counties, as well as the Ministry of National Defense. After nearly three months of testing and preparation, the first flights with actual patient samples have already been successfully conducted.

Alongside the expertise and training of our medical professionals and specialists, achieving advanced healthcare also relies on technological means. As part of our mission to provide the best care to patients, we are constantly investing in modernizing the MedLife Group with cutting-edge equipment, including surgical robots, ultrasound devices, laboratory equipment, and more. This openness to innovation and the courage to experiment have helped us solidify our position as a market leader, while contributing to the modernization of Romanian healthcare. We are proud to strengthen our pioneer status in the field and bring the future of medicine closer to the present. We have already successfully conducted the first flights of biological samples by drone, and this achievement gives us confidence in our future plans in this direction,” stated Mihai Marcu, CEO and President of MedLife Group.

Time savings exceeding 50% compared to ground transportation allow for same-day test result delivery

The average transport time from the initial collection points to Oradea is approximately 19–28 minutes one way and less than an hour between Oradea and Arad. The drone operates at a speed of around 122 km/h. This represents a time savings exceeding 50% compared to ground transportation while offering additional options for collection and delivery thanks to the system’s autonomy. Consequently, MedLife is able to provide patients with test results more quickly, reducing the response time for 76% of laboratory test categories.

“The decision to implement this transportation system was based on a preliminary analysis that identified significant operational advantages, enabling us to streamline our activities for the benefit of our patients. By reducing delivery times for samples, avoiding traffic delays, increasing the number of samples we can receive and analyze, we can guarantee patients a quick turnaround for a wide range of laboratory services. In practice, patients will receive results on the same day for most tests. All of these contribute to the likelihood of a faster diagnosis and timely treatment, which are our main objectives in this initiative. Additionally, we are addressing sustainability by introducing an alternative transportation method with a lower carbon footprint compared to vehicle transportation,” stated Dr. Robert Beke, Executive Director of the MedLife Group Laboratories Division.

The initial drone routes connect collection points in the towns of Beiuș, Aleșd, Marghita, and Salonta in Bihor County to MedLife laboratories in Oradea and Arad. Specifically, samples collected in these collection points are transported by drones to both the MedLife Oradea Laboratory and the MedLife Arad Laboratory, depending on the type and complexity of the tests.

With the launch of drone transportation between Oradea and Arad, spanning a distance of 120 km, MedLife puts Romania on the map of innovation by creating the longest medical logistics drone flight route in Europe, which takes less than an hour to complete.

The European Union adopted Regulations 2019/945 and 2019/947, creating the most favorable legal environment in the world for complex drone operations, making this innovative project possible. By adopting standards developed in collaboration with industry, academia, and regulators, Europe leads the way in drone economy innovation.

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