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Drones to deliver drugs, supplies to Utahns starting next year

Posted at 11:35 AM, Nov 11, 2021

SALT LAKE CITY — Intermountain Healthcare says drones will deliver drugs and supplies to Utahns' homes starting next year.

The first-of-its-kind drone delivery system will be made possible by a partnership between Intermountain and logistics company Zipline.

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The program will deliver prescriptions and medical supplies to patients in the Salt Lake City metro area and then expand to other areas over the course of several years.

In a news release, Intermountain hoped to be able to complete hundreds of deliveries each day and be capable of delivering to approximately 90 percent of patient homes in the region.

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With the use of Zipline's drones, Intermountain said at first they will deliver to patient homes within a 50-mile radius of the Salt Lake-area distribution center. Over time, Intermountain Healthcare plans to expand to deliver a range of medications and products, including prescriptions, specialty pharmaceuticals and over-the-counter items.

“Making access to healthcare faster and more convenient will lead to better health outcomes for our patients,” said Marc Harrison, MD, president and CEO of Intermountain Healthcare. “And with Zipline, we’re making the idea of true care at home a reality for many of our patients.”

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According to the statement, Zipline’s automated, on-demand delivery service features a fleet of small, fixed-wing autonomous aircraft. These aircraft can travel long distances in most weather conditions and safely, gently, and quietly parachute packages to an area about the size of several parking spaces.

Zipline and Intermountain Healthcare will begin construction in early 2022 and plan to begin deliveries by the middle of next year.