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Pennsylvania Hospital to Use Drones to Deliver Meds

Officials with WellSpan Health — which is based in York County, Pa. — said this week that they are preparing to use drones to deliver prescriptions and medical supplies to patients’ homes.

(TNS) — York County-based WellSpan Health said this week it is preparing to use drones to deliver prescriptions and medical supplies to patients’ homes.

The drones are able to find their destination via programming, as opposed to the to kind which must remain within the sight of an operator. They will actually consist of two drones: One that flies to its destination and hovers above, and another that’s lowered on a tether to place a package at a location such as a doorstep or outdoor table, according to a WellSpan news release.

WellSpan has partnered with a company, Zipline, which it says has U.S. Federal Aviation Administration approval for its drones to fly long distances and has made millions of deliveries since 2016 for companies including Cleveland Clinic, Intermountain Health and Walmart.

“WellSpan continues to reimagine what healthcare can look like for our patients. With Zipline, we’re creating a future for our patients where getting a prescription filled is as simple as pressing a button. We’re making our system lower cost, faster, and more sustainable by bringing this exceptional technology to South Central Pennsylvania,” said Roxanna Gapstur, the president and CEO of WellSpan.

WellSpan gave no specific timetable for rolling out the service, saying it will take place in “the coming years” beginning at “select locations.” However, WellSpan offered a link to a waiting list where people can sign up to be first in line when deliveries become available.

WellSpan also plans to use the drones to move lab samples between facilities.

WellSpan says drone deliveries can be far faster than traditional methods, and that “real time tracking” will enable patients to know exactly when scheduled deliveries will arrive, “so they no longer have to waste hours waiting.”

WellSpan further says the drones emit far less greenhouse gases than delivery by gasoline-powered vehicles, and will be a key part of its pledge to reduce emissions by 50% by 2020.

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