Virginia partnership launches delivery of medications to patients via medical cargo drones

A partnership of Virginia for-profit, non-profit, government and education organizations has announced the launch of a healthcare initiative aimed at providing vital hypertension medical supplies to patients within a 2-mile radius of Riverside Health System facilities on Virginia’s Eastern Shore. The Elevating Health Care Access (EHCA) project was selected by the US Department of Transportation’s Strengthening Mobility and Revolutionizing Transportation (SMART) Grants Program in April 2023, which provides grants to eligible public sector agencies to conduct demonstration projects focused on advanced smart community technologies to improve transportation efficiency and safety.

The team has delivered three successful packages to three patients within two miles of Riverside Shore Memorial Hospital in Onancock, Virginia.

The initiative is a collective efforts of DroneUp, Riverside Health System, Virginia Institute for Spaceflight & Autonomy (VISA) at Old Dominion University (ODU), and the Accomack-Northampton Planning District Commission (A-NPDC) and is funded through the US D.O.T. SMART Grants Program. The Virginia Innovation Partnership Corporation (VIPC) provided a USD75,000 grant for the project’s initial funding, which enabled the team to jump start the exploration of use cases, concepts of operations, and Eastern Shore community engagement efforts.

This first round of medication deliveries comes less than six months after the SMART Grant was awarded in April 2023. The project was one of 59 proposals awarded out of a nationwide pool of 389 applications and the only application in the Commonwealth of Virginia to be awarded. After this successful first patient delivery, the team plans to demonstrate more extensive and further- distance delivery and beyond visual line of site operations, eventually delivering to remote Tangier Island in the middle of the Chesapeake Bay.

The initiative will help streamline the regular distribution of hypertension medical supplies to Riverside Health System patients, ensuring they receive the care they need promptly, says the press release. DroneUp’s delivery can carry supplies of up to 10 pounds and ensure they are delivered in an ongoing cadence, so patients are never without their prescription.

Key highlights of the initiative include:

  1. Efficient and Timely Deliveries: DroneUp’s advanced drone fleet delivered hypertension medications directly to patients’ doorsteps within a 2-mile radius of Riverside Health System facilities. This ensures swift and efficient delivery, reducing wait times for patients.
  2. Enhanced Patient Care: By eliminating transportation barriers and delays associated with traditional delivery methods, especially in the rural Eastern Shore area, this initiative allows patients to access critical medications, contributing to better health outcomes and improved quality of life.
  3. Cutting-Edge Technology: DroneUp’s drones are equipped with state-of-the-art technology, including GPS navigation and real-time monitoring systems, to ensure safe and accurate deliveries.
  4. Collaborative Partnership: DroneUp, Riverside Health System and their partners have worked closely together to develop this initiative, aligning its services with Riverside’s commitment to enhancing patient care and access to medical resources.

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