May 29, 2024


An Unmanned Community

VA Partnership Will Deliver Hypertension Medicine by Drone to Patients in Remote Communities

Pmedicine delivered by dronemedicine delivered by droneatients on Virginia Eastern Shore May Get Blood Pressure Medicine Delivered by Drone

by DRONELIFE Staff Writer Ian M. Crosby

DroneLife · Virginia – Partnership – Will – Use – Drones – To – Deliver – Medicine – To – Patients – Homes

Riverside Health System has announced a partnership with DroneUp, Virginia Institute for Spaceflight & Autonomy (VISA) at Old Dominion University (ODU), the Accomack-Northampton Planning District Commission, and the Virginia Innovation Partnership Corporation (VIPC) to start delivering medications to patients on the Eastern Shore and Tangier Island. Last year, the partnership submitted a medical drone delivery project to the U.S. Department of Transportation for funding support. This project was one of 59 proposals granted funding through the Strengthening Mobility and Revolutionizing Transportation (SMART) Grants Program out of a pool of 389. It was also the only application in the Commonwealth of Virginia to receive a SMART Grant in the program’s inaugural year.

“We are always looking for innovative ways to provide care for our patients,” said Sally Hartman, Riverside’s Senior ViP of Strategic Initiatives. “This partnership provides us with the opportunity to support patients in more rural communities by improving access to prescription medications with fast at-home delivery.”

During the initial planning and prototyping stage, Riverside will make use of DroneUp’s medical cargo drones to test and plan for delivery to patients in rural areas on the Eastern Shore, especially remote communities like Tangier Island. Afterwards, the partnership will move on to implementation, deploying medical cargo drones from Riverside Shore Memorial Hospital (RSMH) to deliver medications directly to a patient’s doorstep. During the process, the patient and Riverside’s care teams will be able to track the delivery in real time. At launch, Riverside will focus on delivering medications for hypertension, a condition that disproportionately affects residents of Eastern Shore compared to the rest of the Commonwealth of Virginia.

“We are excited to see the first medical cargo drone take flight from RSMH in May,” said Nick Chuquin, President of Riverside Shore Memorial Hospital. “The Eastern Shore is a unique geographical area with a rural make-up that can pose accessibility challenges for patients in need of prescription medication. We know that drone service delivery to our patients living in rural areas of our community will not only improve access to medications but also improve patient outcomes and overall health.”

The project was organized last fall with initial funding from VIPC’s Unmanned Systems Center, which has supported other pilot projects in Virginia utilizing unmanned systems. In 2020, VIPC collaborated with DroneUp to find out how effective drone deliveries of test kits were in combating the spread of COVID-19.

“VIPC’s mission is to support game-changing market development initiatives, such as this medical drone delivery service for Riverside’s patients on the Eastern Shore,” said Tracy Tynan, the Director of the Virginia Unmanned Systems Center at VIPC. “VIPC concentrates on​ ​​​investing seed funding during the early stages of technological innovation to stimulate and accelerate economic growth, which increases vital resources for communities throughout the state.”

VISA will serve the project through project management, health outcomes Modeling, Analysis, and Simulation, and workforce development in support of the Accomack- Northampton Planning District Commission, the grant’s submitting organization.

“The drone delivery project truly embodies our mission to ignite growth, talent, and innovation at ODU, our region, and the Commonwealth of Virginia,” said VISA Executive Director Dr. David Bowles.

“We’re really excited to be part of revolutionizing transportation of critical medical supplies in rural and other areas for those who really need it and to provide emergency first responders with a safe way to better access and assess hazardous or crisis situations,” said VISA Deputy Director John Costulis.

The partnership is working closely with the Department of Transportation (DOT) to finalize documentation and begin project work on June 1, 2023.

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Ian attended Dominican University of California, where he received a BA in English in 2019. With a lifelong passion for writing and storytelling and a keen interest in technology, he is now contributing to DroneLife as a staff writer.


Miriam McNabbMiriam McNabb

Miriam McNabb is the Editor-in-Chief of DRONELIFE and CEO of JobForDrones, a professional drone services marketplace, and a fascinated observer of the emerging drone industry and the regulatory environment for drones. Miriam has penned over 3,000 articles focused on the commercial drone space and is an international speaker and recognized figure in the industry.  Miriam has a degree from the University of Chicago and over 20 years of experience in high tech sales and marketing for new technologies.
For drone industry consulting or writing, Email Miriam.


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