WATCH: Upstate using drones to deliver medications and health care supplies

SYRACUSE, N.Y. (WSYR-TV) — Do you ever wish your prescriptions could just fall from the sky? Well, a new drone delivery system at Upstate is one step closer to making that happen!

As part of the “Meds to Beds” program, Upstate has partnered with Causey Aviation Unmanned, a North Carolina drone operating business founded by Jeff Causey.

“These drones are going to transform our lives in terms of health care, food delivery and lots of other things. It’s better for patients. It’s better for the hospital and it just leads to better care.”


Causey Aviation Unmanned is one of only five drone carriers in the United States allowed to make deliveries for health care under FAA regulations. Through its partnership with Upstate, it’s also the first company to provide drone deliveries in Central New York.

Upstate’s “Meds to Beds” program provides medications to patients prior to being released from the hospital. It eliminated the need for patients to stop at the pharmacy to retrieve their medication.

Dr. Robert Corona, CEO of Upstate, says prescription and medical supply drone delivery is helping the health care system operate more efficiently.

“This is a critical part of our operations, and it makes it more efficient to get the supplies from the bedside to the pharmacy to the laboratories and we can move things between our institutions.”


Causey Aviation Unmanned’s drones are manufactured by Flytrex, an Israeli startup company.

But you might be wondering…how can a drone make a delivery?! Medications actually go right inside the drone’s payload box. Each drone weighs 35 pounds and can carry up to six pounds worth of delivery.

“The drones are actually lowered down to the ground so they don’t need to make a delivery. The hooks actually lower the package down to the ground. With these drones, as soon as the pharmacy has the prescription ready, we’re only using a few cents of electricity to move these prescriptions, so there’s no point in making a patient wait.”


Efficient, innovative and some might even say futuristic.

“Being a teaching hospital, this is something we want to teach all of our students, future doctors and nurses, and other engineers to learn,” Dr. Corona explained.

Disclaimer: Upstate is not yet offering at-home prescription deliveries via drone. Dr. Corona said he anticipates this will be the next step to expand the program, but there is no timetable for when that could happen due to various regulations/policies.

Upstate is also considering the use of drones to transport medications to the Upstate Cancer Center in Verona, which is expected to open later this year.

Quality health care flying to new heights!

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