Artificial Intelligence Featured Post Healthcare

UPS delivers pharmacy drugs by drone

UPS and CVS Health Corp. have teamed up to deliver prescriptions by drone.

The U.S. healthcare system is being pushed towards a less costly, more efficient model and the debate about how to do it continues to be in the spotlight of the 2020 election campaign.

One area where hospitals and insurers see savings is in healthcare logistics, which refers to the distribution of supplies and consumables to hospitals, doctors, and pharmacies. It also includes the just-in-time delivery of temperature-sensitive drugs, biologics, and organs and tissues used in transplants.

Among the biggest players in this field are shipping companies like UPS. UPS is the world’s largest package delivery company, with a market capitalization of US$87.6 billion. It operates in 220 countries and territories and employs 481,000 people. Its operations include a cargo airline, freight-based trucking, and 5,000 franchised UPS stores.

UPS has been testing the use of unmanned drones to deliver medical supplies to remote places in Africa and also between hospitals in North Carolina.

Through the UPS Foundation, UPS has combined blockchain and Artificial Intelligence software to deliver drugs by drone in remote parts of Ghana. The Foundation is building a medical drone network in partnership with Zipline, a privately-held California-based automated logistics company.

The start-up is backed by the likes of Google Ventures, Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen, and Yahoo co-founder Jerry Yang.

UPS recently announced an expansion of its drone program. Two weeks after unveiling a partnership to explore drone shipments of drugs with  CVS Health Corp., the companies completed the first commercial medical prescription drone delivery in the U.S.

UPS CVS drone lo res
UPS and CVS Pharmacy have formed a partnership to deliver prescription drugs by drone. Credit: UPS

A drone finished two short, autonomous flights to customers’ homes near a CVS store in Cary, North Carolina. The prescriptions were lowered via a cable while the drone hovered about 20 feet about each address.

UPS said one of the packages was delivered to a customer with limited mobility, which makes it difficult for them to make the trip to a nearby store. A UPS drone operator who was on hand to take over the flights if needed.

The Raleigh News & Observer captured the flight with a video.

UPS is combining its traditional competency with new technologies to give it an edge. These initiatives show how it is adapting to new technologies to maintain its dominance.

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