Table 3

Illustrative set of standardised indicators for a drone-supported healthcare system

CategoryIndicatorDescriptionData sources
Health system performanceHealth facilities and patients reachedNo and types of health facilities covered, quantitative estimate of served population (vs catchment population)HIS, LIS
Health outcomesMeasurement of standard WHO and national disease indicators of interest (considering an appropriate measurement period for each health outcome)HIS, LIS
Supply chainTurn-around timesNo of minutes from the time the operator begins to prepare the drone for take-off, to the time of the flight, to the time the payload is received, battery changed, payload reloaded and the flight returnsHIS, LIS, LMIS
No of samplesNo of specimens received (eg, per 1000 population)HIS, LIS
Stock-outsNo of days per month with stock-outs by medical commodity per health facilityHIS, LIS, LMIS, stock records
Commodity/sample typesTypes of medical commodities and biomedical samples transported, via emergency delivery or regular supplyHIS, LIS, LMIS, drone information system (DIS)*
Quantity, weight, volume/sizeQuantity, weight, volume/size of medical commodities and biomedical samples transportedHIS, LIS, LMIS
QualityCollection, storage and transportation of samples and medical commodities according to WHO guidelines and specific manufacturer guidelines†HIS, LIS, WHO guidelines, national guidelines, manufacturer guidelines
No of successful deliveries madeNo of successful on-time deliveries made within the service level agreementHIS, LIS, LMIS, DIS
Payload damage or lossCommodity or biomedical sample damage or lossLIS, LMIS, DIS
CostsStart-up, operational and maintenance costTechnology acquisition, training activities, operational costs, technical maintenance, flight permits, human resources, insurancePurchase receipts, bills, pay checks, interviews, DIS
Delivery costCost per flight and per commodity/sample type, per distance, per volume, per timeDIS, interviews
Other health system costsTime that healthcare worker spends with patients and invests in interacting with drone systemHIS, interviews
Technical performanceFlight quantityNo of flights completed for each destination, by type of flight (one-way or two-way transport), by payload vs empty flightsDIS
Flight qualityFlight durations, distance ranges, flight endurance‡, altitudes, routes/waypoint tracks, flight operational time (including preparation, launch, landing and post-flight tasks) average and maximum airspeeds and groundspeeds, environmental conditionsDIS
Failures or flights missedFlights affected by external causes (eg, climate, technical, operator error) and duration of aircraft on groundDIS
TemperaturePayload or product temperature during flight, reported as average and range per distance flownDIS
Acceleration, vibrationCargo compartment acceleration and vibrations during flightDIS
AcceptanceGovernmentQualitative data on risk and benefit perceptions, including health systems performance, economic factors, regulatory issues, policies, health systems integration, compromised safety factors or other concerns
Quantitative data estimate on costs and willingness to pay
Interviews with governmental stakeholders/employees at all levels
Public, communitiesQualitative data on awareness, risk and benefit perceptions, attitudes, safety, complaints, traditional, cultural, religious and ethical considerations, livelihood considerations, etcInterviews, focus group discussions
  • *DIS, drone information system: records of all drone-related telemetry and flight-log data (including aircraft sensor and navigational data, power data, temperatures, altitude, barometric pressure, gyroscope, accelerometer, connectivity parameters, GPS signals), operator statements (ie, samples/commodities transported), pre-flight and post-flight checks, environmental conditions and incidences (including causes, aircraft downtime, damage types, repairs).

  • †The quality of samples/commodities transported should (1) fulfil the requirements put forward in guidelines and (2) not be of inferior quality as when transported by traditional means (using 0=inferior quality; 1=equal or superior quality).

  • ‡Flight endurance describes the maximum duration an aircraft can fly on one battery charge.

  • HIS, health information system; LIS, laboratory information system; LMIS, logistics management information system.