Delivering medications by drones

Thursday, November 26, 2020

AirMatrix staff preparing the drone outside the School of Pharmacy

Waterloo’s School of Pharmacy partners with AirMatrix to trial medication delivery by automated drones. Photo provided by AirMatrix.

COVID-19 has changed the daily workflow of community pharmacies.

As essential services, pharmacies remained open when many other health-care facilities closed or shifted online, creating a surge in demand that overwhelmed many practices, especially in the area of medication delivery.

“To reduce in-person visits to the pharmacy and limit risk of infection, some community pharmacists are now completing up to three times more delivery orders than pre-pandemic,” Nancy Waite says, associate director of Clinical Education at the School of Pharmacy. “Pharmacists are working hard to keep up, but there is clearly a need for ways to increase our efficiency to meet this demand.”

A new project with AirMatrix, a Canadian company that specializes in designing skyways for drones, hopes to help with this. Partnering with the Region of Waterloo, AirMatrix will be working with community organizations to run trials of drone delivery services — in the School of Pharmacy’s case, this will include medication delivery by drone.

Anthony Miller and Nancy Wait in masks outside the pharmacy building

Anthony Miller and Nancy Waite on trial day. Photo provided by AirMatrix.

“We know that drone delivery is the way of the future,” Anthony Miller says, experiential co-ordinator for Co-op and partner on the project. “And we’ve been working to grow our engagement with health technology partners in the region. This was a perfect opportunity to provide our insight insight on how pharmacies operate, on the needs of practitioners and patients — and to use it to meaningfully influence how a cutting-edge technological solution is developed.”

Read the full story on Waterloo Stories.

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