Mayo Clinic, Zipline partner to deliver supplies to patients' homes using drones

Mayo Clinic, Zipline partner to deliver supplies to patients' homes using drones



Zipline, an instant logistics and delivery company, announced that its urban drone delivery system, Platform 2, will be used by Mayo Clinic facilities in Jacksonville, Florida, and Rochester, Minnesota, to deliver items to patients of the medical center’s hospital-at-home program. 

Platform 2 is an autonomous electric delivery drone that can hold eight pounds of cargo and travel 10 miles within 10 minutes. The system combines fixed-wing flight with hovering propellers, and a small mini-aircraft or “droid” lowers packages from 330 feet to a space as small as a doorstep. 

Through Mayo Clinic’s Advanced Care at Home program, patients receive a computer for video visits with Mayo Clinic’s care team, a personal emergency response bracelet, a phone that directly connects to one’s care team, a router for internet access, a backup power supply and vital sign monitoring devices. 

Through the partnership, patients will be able to receive medications and supplies from the hospital delivered directly to their homes using the San Francisco-based company’s drone service. 

THE LARGER TREND

Zipline has formed numerous partnerships within healthcare to offer medication and healthcare supplies deliveries, including with Memorial Hermann Health System, Intermountain Health, Michigan Medicine, MultiCare Health System, OhioHealth, WellSpan Health, and Cleveland Clinic

Another company offering drone delivery service is Amazon Pharmacy, which launched its offering last year for free drone delivery of prescription medications in 60 minutes or less for eligible customers in College Station, Texas. 

Patients can receive over 500 medications for common conditions via drone delivery, including flu, asthma and pneumonia. Once an order is placed, a pharmacist loads the medicines into a Prime Air drone and ensures delivery to a customer’s front door within an hour. 

One of the biggest hurdles drone delivery companies have faced is Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) regulations, which largely require unmanned aircraft systems to be flown within an operator’s line of sight. 

Last year, the FAA authorized Zipline to deliver commercial packages using drones that can fly beyond an operator’s visual line of sight in Salt Lake City without visual observers. 

The FAA established an advisory and rule-making committee dubbed Unmanned Aircraft Systems Beyond Visual Line-of-Sight Operations Aviation Rulemaking Committee, or UAS BVLOS ARC, which in 2022 released a report noting how unmanned aircraft could improve health equity by allowing individuals in rural communities where “pharmacy deserts” exist to receive critical items, such as prescription medications. 



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