Myron Wright, President, UPS Flight Forward
Innovation oftentakes time and patience, but over the past several yearsthe drone industry has grown by leaps and bounds. When UPS began working with drones, we applied the same rigorous safety standards that we apply to our air and ground delivery services. At UPS Flight Forward, this commitment to safety is embedded in everything we do, including how we’re helping to advance healthcare logistics.
Our purpose is simple:to move our world forward by delivering what matters. Every step of the way, we are focused on contributing to a safe, thoughtful infrastructure that the drone industry can build upon for generations to come.
Today, we are using drones for specimen logistics on hospital campuses to help reduce the time it takes to diagnose and treat patients. We’re deliberate in how we use drone technology to enhance the provider and patient experience in remarkable ways. That’s why we pride ourselves on being a “Quality Focused, Patient Driven” organization.
Imagine the possibilities for transporting critical healthcare itemsfora network of hospitals and healthcare clinics, especially in remote or underserved areas. For instance, compounded medications are custom formulated to fit the unique needs of cancer patientsand are typically time and temperature sensitive. With drone delivery, these specialty medications can be delivered faster, reducing the amount of time a cancer patient spends waiting for infusion therapy.
Last year, UPS Flight Forward teamed up with the world’s largest pharmacy to deliver prescription medicines to the nation’s largest retirement community, The Villages, Florida. Rapid drone deliveryofferspatients greater delivery speed and convenience, especially for those who are medically frail and unable to visit the store.
Healthcare continues to be a fast-growing market with people living longer and increasingly demanding more personalized care. Smart logistics is enabling this by getting critical specimens where they need to be on time and intact. Patients now complete test screenings in the privacy of their home and arrange pickup service by logistics providers like UPS to transport specimens to labs for diagnostics.
That is what we are seeing today: smart logistics is enablingaccess to better care. At UPS, we are focused on building the right capabilities and the right relationships to meet the complex demands of the healthcare and life sciences industry. The partnerships that we’ve built, which include our healthcare customers and drone manufacturers, are critical building blocks that are needed to further develop the technology and knowledge-basethat will advance the drone delivery industry.
Since 2019, wehave completed more than 4,900 flights after initiatingour first revenue-generating drone delivery service at WakeMed’s flagship hospital in Raleigh, N.C. UPSFlight Forwardhas alsoearned the FAA’s first Standard Part 135 Air Carrier certification to operate as a drone airline. And we are just getting started.
One thing we have learned, drone delivery is not a one-size-fits-all proposition. Our customers’ needs are wide-ranging and ever changing. With the FAA’s Beyond and Partnership for Safety Programs, this industryhas come a long way in a short period of time.But moving to the next phase of development will require just as much emphasis on future-focused thinking and safety as what got us here. At UPS we are hyper-aware that, in order to be successful, safety-first framework and infrastructure must be developed that enables all of us to be successful.