Carilion Clinic testing out drone delivery

Carilion is taking the future of healthcare to new heights

ROANOKE, Va. – Carilion Clinic is testing out the latest in medical innovation — drone delivery.

Carilion is testing whether or not drones can deliver necessary medical supplies or medication across Carilion Clinic’s campus. The goal is to cut down on delivery times and costs, plus give healthcare workers more time with their patients.

“How do we not congest roadways with vehicles when we could actually fly faster to locations and be more efficient at the same time,” Davenport said.

Paul Davenport is the vice president of Carilion Clinic Emergency & Care Management Services. He says Carilion is always looking to innovate, and this is the next step.

Carilion Clinic partnered with Virginia Beach-based company DroneUp. For the next two weeks, they’ll test out the drone to see if it can carry the weight and quantity of materials needed to four different sites on Carilion’s campus.

Greg James is the vice president of business development at DroneUp. He says the drone can travel 1.5 miles, make 4 to 6 trips an hour, and can carry about 10 pounds.

“What I’m interested in seeing is where we can deliver to across the campus, what kind of impact that has to their materials management team and delivery team, as well as the people receiving the goods,” James said.

Avoiding Carilion’s helicopters will be a challenge they’ll have to troubleshoot.

“Part of the proof of concept in these next two weeks is the integration with our Carilion Clinic Lifeguard Communication Center and the drone and making sure that they stay clear of each other and safe,” Davenport said.

Davenport says the technology could ease the burden on healthcare workers.

“Healthcare over the past several years has been very challenging and we are in a recovery period,” Davenport said. “We’re looking for opportunities to use technology in the future to ease the burden on the frontline healthcare worker.”

As for the future, Carilion Clinic officials say the sky’s the limit.

“You could see a future of healthcare [where] the patient may not need to leave their home,” Davenport said. “And that we could be delivering things to home health nurses, to community paramedicine programs. And the patient may not need the hospital. It’s really about extending the healthcare umbrella.”

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