Picture: Zipline

Zipline, a drone delivery and logistics company, has announced that it will begin the delivery of prescriptions and medical supplies directly to select Intermountain Healthcare patients’ yard in the Salt Lake Valley area. Customers are now able to sign up and use the service to place orders. 

This new partnership will see Ziplines delivery system in Utah expand gradually over a five-year period, with the aim of being able to deliver directly to more that 1 million people.  

Several factors will determine whether Zipline is able to deliver to someone’s home. This includes their yard size, location, and surrounding airspace. The company will then get in contact with eligible customers who are interested in using the Zipline system. Zipline will primarily focus on a radius that is close to their distribution center, and over time, will gradually expand to other communities and build new distribution centers. 

Intermountain Healthcare is said to be the first health system west of the Mississippi River to use Zipline to bring prescriptions and over-the-counter medications to patients home via Zipline’s on-demand logistics system which includes fully electric, autonomous aircrafts said the company in their press release.  

The development of autonomous aircraft means that Intermountain are now able to deliver care to all its patients in person or virtually and can receive the support they need. This is especially important for those who may be deemed less mobile, sick, or have obligations that make it harder to get medications. 

“This partnership allows us to reach patients faster than we ever thought possible, at a time that’s convenient for them,” said Gordon Slade, associate vice president of supply chain logistics at Intermountain Healthcare. “Combined with our telehealth services like Connect Care, it’s possible to virtually see a doctor and get medication you need delivered from Zipline, without having to travel to a clinic or the hospital.” 

Ziplines delivery system features a fleet of small, fixed wing, fully autonomous aircraft that operates quietly and releases packages with parachutes to a patients yard, in an area that it’s the size of two car parking spaces. 

The aircraft can fly up to a 50-mile radius in multiple weather conditions including rain, wind and extreme temperatures, and are well known for their minimal sound. 

The company estimates that each flight produces about 30 times less CO2 emissions per mile than an average electric vehicle and up to 98% less CO2 emissions than a combustion engine vehicle. Air pollution has been a big issue along Utah’s Wasatch Front and therefore these environmental benefits are particularly significant within this area. 

“Think back to the last time you had a doctor’s visit and then had to trek to the pharmacy for your prescription, making what can already be a time-consuming experience that much more draining, or the last time your child was ill and you had to pack the family in the car just to get cold medicine,” said Bijal Mehta, head of global fulfillment operations at Zipline.  

“Zipline and Intermountain Healthcare are working together to eliminate the burdens that make it harder to get the care you need when you need it. We believe instant delivery is a key element to the future of healthcare and we are excited to bring our service to the Salt Lake City area to make people’s lives better, easier, and healthier.”   

Test flights began several weeks ago. The partnership hopes to slowly expand over the next five years in the hope that eventually they will be capable of delivering to approximately 90% of patients’ homes in the Salt Lake Valley area and will eventually reach new locations.