Michigan Medicine, 2 other systems to deploy prescriptions with new drones

Michigan Medicine will use Zipline's new drones to deliver prescriptions to patients' doors, which will "more than double the number of prescriptions it fills each year through its existing in-house pharmacy," the Ann Arbor-based system said March 15. 

The newer drone models, called Platform 2 Zips, are seven times faster than typical automobile delivery and can deliver a package to a patio table-sized area 10 miles away within 10 minutes, according to Zipline. They can also carry 6 to 8 pounds worth of equipment. 

The new drones are "practically silent" and are "designed to sound like wind rustling leaves," the company said in a news release. "By 2025, Zipline expects to operate more flights annually than most airlines."

"By deploying Zipline, we are able to make deliveries faster than ever before, saving time for both patients and our medical workers, enabling faster, affordable pharmacy care that leads to better patient outcomes," said Marschall Runge, MD, PhD, CEO of Michigan Medicine, dean of the University of Michigan Medical School and executive vice president of medical affairs for the University of Michigan. 

Other than Michigan Medicine, organizations that will use Zips include Salt Lake City-based Intermountain Health, Tacoma, Wash.-based MultiCare Health System, Sweetgreen and the government of Rwanda. 

Intermountain plans to use Zips to deliver prescriptions in the Salt Lake City metro area, and MultiCare will use them "to expedite diagnostics and deliver prescriptions and medical devices throughout MultiCare's network of facilities, including hospitals," Zipline said.

More health systems could soon be on board. 

The new drones fly more than 300 feet above the ground, and when it arrives, "it hovers safely and quietly at that altitude, while its fully autonomous delivery droid maneuvers down a tether, steers to the correct location and gently drops off its package," according to Zipline.

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