There are healthcare providers using drones to deliver prescriptions, medical supplies, and telemedicine platforms. In fact, Intermountain Healthcare in Salt Lake City is doing all three in partnership with Zipline, which is a San Francisco-based company.
These drones can deliver medicine and homecare products to anyone who lives within 50 miles of the distribution center. This makes access to healthcare faster and more convenient.
How it Works
Patients can connect with their providers while they are home. They can use telemedicine or the phone. Then, they can receive the medicine and supplies they need within minutes to their doorstep. Zipline has already made more than 200,000 drone deliveries, and they are involved in programs in Ghana and Rwanda.
What They Can Do
If a patient has cancer or needs antibiotics, they can receive the medicine they need without ever leaving the house. This is convenient for single parents who may not have time to go to the pharmacy or cancer patients who may need to stay home. Instant access is more than convenient; it makes healthcare more efficient and equitable. It is reliable for everyone no matter where they live.
Who Is Using Drones?
Many health systems have been experimenting with drones in recent years, and they have used them to send items to locations that are remote. They also send lab tests or specimens from one healthcare provider to another. This has been useful in high-traffic areas such as Los Angeles. They can also do it in mountainous regions.
One system, WakeMed Health and Hospitals in North Carolina, has partnered with UPS, and they are using drones as delivery vehicles. CVS Health works with UPS Flight Forward and uses drones to deliver prescriptions to people in a retirement community in Florida called The Villages.
San Diego has the Rady Children’s Institute for Genomic Medicine, and they have studied how they can use drones to improve care for children who are seriously ill. At the University of Cincinnati, they are using drones to make house calls through telemedicine. COVID-19 showed the need for these services, and they are in practice now.