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Making history in healthcare logistics

Picture of a drone delivering medical samples

Advances in technology and healthcare logistics are transforming the future of patient care. This is particularly true as emerging technologies like drones put quality care within reach of more patients inside and outside of health facilities.

Historically, the practice of medical care revolved around a simple formula - a patient goes to the doctor and receives treatment. As care becomes more complex with the introduction of new models, techniques and delivery options, the patient experience is evolving and taking on new dimensions.

"Medical supplies must move from one point to another with a higher degree of efficacy."

Medical supplies - like blood and tissue samples and pharmaceuticals - all must move from one point to another with a higher degree of efficacy. You're seeing more specialized handling, temperature controls, sturdier packaging, regulatory compliance mandates across borders, quality controls and end-to-end visibility.

Leapfrogging technologies

As we work to improve healthcare logistics, UPS's goal is to support customers by leapfrogging existing technologies and advancing what we call our Global Smart Logistics Network.

Our Advanced Technology Group explores many new technologies like Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs), artificial intelligence, robotics and augmented reality to shape the future for UPS.

This approach was on full display when we launched in 2016 just-in-time urgent deliveries of healthcare supplies in Rwanda through UAVs.

And we're making history in healthcare logistics with our newly announced collaboration to deliver medical samples via unmanned drones in North Carolina.

Picture of a drone delivering a UPS package

UPS's logistics expertise, our safety culture and new UAV technology from Matternet enabled us to launch the first autonomous drone service sanctioned by the Federal Aviation Administration.

This service transports medical specimens by drone between buildings at WakeMed Health & Hospitals' flagship facility in Raleigh, North Carolina. Today we make routine daily drone flights of samples from clinics to central laboratory.

This new delivery option offers the ability to avoid roadway delays, increase medical delivery efficiency, lower costs and improve the patient experience with potentially life-saving benefits. The North Carolina Unmanned Aerial Systems Integration Pilot Program (UAS IPP) offers a great opportunity to apply our learnings in the United States.

Aligning with transformation

Our new service is strategically aligned with UPS's transformation. Our goal is to reimagine what we now do for our healthcare customers - and what we can do for them in the future.

"A new service transports medical specimens by drone between buildings at WakeMed Health & Hospitals."

This is an ongoing program at WakeMed, and we will use the learnings to consider how drones can improve transport services at other hospitals and medical facilities across the United States.

Woman preparing medical samples for drone delivery
Preparing medical samples for drone delivery.

Healthcare and life sciences will continue to be fast-growing markets, as people are living longer and demanding better care.

Smart logistics is enabling this in part by getting critical specimens where they need to be on time and intact. Patients are now doing test screenings in the privacy of their home and arranging pickup service by logistics providers like UPS to deliver specimens to test labs.

Smart logistics is playing an increasingly critical and strategic role in enabling patient care access.

A new day for healthcare logistics

Enhancing the UPS Global Smart Logistics Network to support hospitals and other healthcare organizations — and even patients — remains a key element of the company’s transformation strategy.

"Supporting hospitals, healthcare organizations and patients is a key element of UPS transformation."

Healthcare and life science logistics is a priority segment for UPS, and the company will continue to build new relationships, technologies and healthcare solutions to support customers with streamlined logistics and supply chain solutions that can help improve patient outcomes in innovative ways.

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