What You Should Know:
– Wake Forest Baptist Health will establish a hospital drone delivery network to carry patient-specific time- and temperature-sensitive medicines and PPE for medical professionals treating COVID-19.
– In partnership with Matternet and UPSFF today started operating on two routes from one location at Wake Forest Baptist Health to two other health system locations, marking one of the first hub-and-spoke operating models for the U.S. drone delivery industry.
Wake Forest Baptist Health and Matternet, a developer of the world’s leading urban drone logistics platform announced the launch of a new hospital delivery network with Matternet’s M2 drone system. In collaboration with UPS Flight Forward (UPSFF), the service will use a hub-and-spoke routing model to provide rapid delivery of time-and temperature-sensitive medicines and supplies, including PPE for medical professionals treating COVID-19 patients.
Drone Hospital Delivery Network
Matternet and UPSFF today started operating on two routes from one location at Wake Forest Baptist Health to two other health system locations, marking one of the first hub-and-spoke operating models for the U.S. drone delivery industry. One route will transport scheduled deliveries of specialty infusion medicines. These medicines are patient-specific, high-cost, and have a short shelf-life, making delivery by drone within minutes an ideal solution. The second route will transport on-demand supplies of personal protective equipment (PPE), such as surgical masks for medical professionals in their fight against COVID-19.
Integrating Automated Drone Delivery with Hospital Labs & Pharmacy Operations
The Matternet Station, a beautifully designed architectural structure, occupies a small footprint and can be installed at ground or rooftop locations. At around 10 feet (3 meters) tall, it keeps the vehicles high enough off the ground to not compromise safety if installed in a public area. The Station is equipped with technology that guides the Matternet M2 Drone to precision landing on the Station’s platform. After landing, the Station locks the drone in place and automatically swaps its battery and payload. When the drone is not in use, it’s parked in a hangar on top of the Station.
The Station gives hospitals and their supply partners the ability to integrate automated drone delivery into their laboratory and pharmacy operations. Hospitals can now move blood diagnostics, pathology specimens, and medicine between their facilities and suppliers with secure, extremely fast, and predictable aerial delivery.
The Station uses an integrated authentication system to allow only authorized personnel to deposit or retrieve a payload by scanning their hospital ID badge. Payloads are tracked at every touchpoint to maintain a strong chain of custody. In its standard configuration, the Station holds four payload boxes, which are kept at a controlled temperature to ensure specimen integrity.
Why It Matters
“Increasing efficiency of our supply chain routes helps provide better service to our patients and their families,” said Conrad Emmerich, chief supply chain officer at Wake Forest Baptist Health. “Partnering with UPS Flight Forward through our iQ Healthtech Labs opens new doors for us to do just that through drone delivery.”
“Now more than ever it’s important for hospitals to have reliable, predictable and efficient methods for transporting critical medicines and time-sensitive lab samples that need results quickly,” said Andreas Raptopoulos, CEO of Matternet. “We are thrilled to expand our partnership with UPSFF to other U.S. hospitals and work with Wake Forest Baptist to implement our drone logistics network that will help transform their operations and patient care.”
Matternet’s Previous Experience in Drone Delivery for Healthcare Providers
Matternet has been operating in the U.S. since August 2018. In partnership with UPSFF, the companies initiated the first ongoing revenue-generating drone delivery service at WakeMed’s flagship hospital and the campus in Raleigh, N.C. in 2019. Since then, more than 1,850 deliveries (3,700 flights) of lab samples have been completed. The new service at Wake Forest Baptist Health, as well as WakeMed, are part of the North Carolina Department of Transportation’s participation in the FAA’s Integration Pilot Program (IPP).
Matternet’s technology is also enabling UPSFF to provide drone delivery service of prescription medicines for a retirement community in Florida. The service provides an option for seniors at higher risk for the Coronavirus infection to receive prescriptions without going to a store.