This week, North Carolina announced that it will begin long-range health care deliveries by drone in an effort to expand on-demand health care and improve the patient experience in the state. A distribution center will be set up in Kannapolis, North Carolina, where Novant Health, Magellan Rx Management, and Cardinal Health will work collaboratively with Zipline, a drone delivery company, to deliver products from that central location.

This drone delivery service can offer delivery within 15 minutes and can serve patients within a 7,800 square mile radius. This will help alleviate some of the frustration of patients who visit a pharmacy, only to find inventory missing or low in stock. Additionally, the hope is that it will also reduce some of the barriers to affordable, effective health care and medical supplies. Patients will be able to order specialty medications for chronic illness and complex conditions directly to their home almost instantaneously.

The announcement of this partnership comes after the Federal Aviation Administration granted Zipline a Part 135 certification, which allows it to operate as a small air carrier in national airspace. Zipline is only the fourth drone operator to receive this certification in the United States. The state hopes to set a bar for care and convenience with this drone delivery system and to increase access to health care for its residents.