Atrium Health Wake Forest Baptist is an academic medical center and health system located in Winston-Salem, North Carolina which is part of Charlotte-based Atrium Health. It is the largest employer in Forsyth County with more than 19,220 employees and a total of 198 buildings on 428 acres. In addition to the main, tertiary-level care hospital in Winston-Salem known as Atrium Health Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center, the Atrium Health Wake Forest Baptist health system also consists of five community hospitals in the surrounding region.

Atrium Health Wake Forest Baptist and its healthtech business enterprise operated through the Innovation Quarter, iQ Healthtech Labs, are taking COVID-19 vaccination efforts to new heights with drone deliveries – the first COVID-19 vaccine drone delivery program in the country.

This new initiative – operated by UPS and its subsidiary, UPS Flight Forward– expands Atrium Health Wake Forest Baptist’s existing drone program that was launched in July 2020.

Woman in yellow vest with large UPS drone. When transporting the COVID-19 vaccines, the Matternet M2 drone is outfitted with a special cargo box that contains Cold Chain Technologies’ customized PCM Gel solution, a temperature-sensitive packaging mixture that maintains the COVID-19 vaccine at 2 to 8 degrees Celsius, and a temperature monitoring device that monitors the vaccine’s temperature while in transit. The customized cold chain packaging follows the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) guidelines on the handling, storage and transportation of the COVID-19 vaccine.

The UPS Flight Forward-operated drone, which flies autonomously and produces zero operational emissions, has the capability to deliver any of the COVID-19 vaccines from Atrium Health Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center to one of the health system’s family medicine practices located at Piedmont Plaza.

“The ability and ingenuity to add an innovative layer to our health care supply chain by transporting COVID-19 vaccines via drone provides us with additional rapid delivery options for these time- and temperature-sensitive vaccines,” said Conrad Emmerich, senior vice president of supply chain at Atrium Health. “The iQ Healthtech Lab team is committed to partnering with industry leaders, like UPS, to better advance healthtech solutions into the marketplace.”

Atrium Health Wake Forest Baptist was one of the first health care institutions in the country to receive the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine via UPS on Monday, Dec., 14, 2020.

Throughout the past year, Atrium Health Wake Forest Baptist has already expanded its environmentally sustainable drone services program to include lab samples, in addition to the specialty infusion and individually compounded medications that have been delivered to patients since the program’s inception.

The autonomous flight is overseen by UPS Flight Forward’s specially trained operators who are stationed onsite to inspect the Matternet M2 aircraft prior to takeoff and scan the airspace for conflicting air traffic.

iQ Healthtech Labs was established in early 2020 by the Innovation Quarter to help coordinate partnerships between anchor institutions like Atrium Health Wake Forest Baptist and industry leaders. The Labs focus on five key sectors of healthtech: value and health transformation, virtual health, healthy aging, personalized care and precision medicine, and learning systems.

According to en.wikipedia; Source of photos: internet