Intermountain Healthcare to use drones to deliver medications

Nov 26, 2021 · Members in the News

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Intermountain Healthcare has been working with Zipline drones for over two years trying to identify ways drones would be beneficial in healthcare. John Wright, Intermountain supply chain and support services vice president, said they came to one conclusion.

“We landed on pharmaceutical drug delivery at home for the convenience of our patients, making sure that they can get care when and where they would like to receive it,” Wright said.

Zipline drones could be delivering medications to patients’ homes as early as March of 2022. Wright said they will start in the Salt Lake area and then expand in future years. He said the system will be faster and will provide needed medical benefits.

“If people are able to receive their prescriptions at home, we’re hoping that they’ll actually use those medications more regularly,” Wright said.

While drone safety might be a concern for some, Utah State aviation professor Shawn Barstow said the drone crashes we see on Youtube aren’t the reality of drone technology.

“Drone technology is to the point where through automation, through artificial intelligence, we’re able to control them in a way that’s going to not only be safer,” Barstow said. “But more expeditious and easier to get what you need done with them.”

Barstow said what Intermountain Healthcare is doing is a step in the right direction for Utah’s drone industry.

“Having worked with medicine and delivering medicine, and having that controllability that you can with the medication,” Barstow said. “I think it’s going to be what Utah really needs to help push it ahead of the drone technology and the drone world.”