Intermountain Healthcare plans to start aerial deliveries next year

SALT LAKE CITY — Intermountain Healthcare announced a partnership with the logistics firm Zipline on Thursday, a collaboration that will seek to deliver a range of medications and products via a fleet of small, fixed-wing autonomous aircraft.

Deliveries plan to begin in mid-2022, with the goal of expanding to hundreds of shipments per day in the Salt Lake City metro area.

The Salt Lake-area distribution center will begin construction in early 2022. The initial project focus will be on delivering specialty pharmaceuticals to patient homes within a 50-mile radius of the center.

The ultimate goal is to be able to reach roughly 90% of homes in the region.

Over time, Intermountain Healthcare plans to expand to deliver a range of medications and products, including prescriptions, specialty pharmaceuticals and over-the-counter items.

“Making access to healthcare faster and more convenient will lead to better health outcomes for our patients,” said Marc Harrison, MD, president and CEO of Intermountain Healthcare. “And with Zipline, we’re making the idea of true care at home a reality for many of our patients.”

Zipline’s aircraft can travel long distances in most weather conditions, and can quietly parachute packages to an area about the size of several parking spaces. The aircraft are entirely electric, which “can help reduce vehicle traffic and carbon emissions from medical deliveries in Utah.”

“Intermountain Healthcare shares our vision of powering telemedicine with instant logistics. Patients can connect with providers from the home, and then receive the medications and supplies they need in a matter of minutes, directly to their doorsteps,” said Keller Rinaudo, co-founder and CEO of Zipline. “For example, a cancer patient could receive her medication without ever leaving her home. Or a single parent could get his child’s antibiotics without a trip to the pharmacy. Instant access to care is not just about convenience. It comes down to making healthcare more equitable, efficient, and reliable for people, regardless of where they live or their circumstances.”

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