By Tim Ryan

Riverside Health System has joined forces with DroneUp, Virginia Institute for Spaceflight & Autonomy (VISA) at Old Dominion University (ODU), the Accomack-Northampton Planning District Commission, and the Virginia Innovation Partnership Corporation (VIPC) to deliver prescription medications to patients on the Eastern Shore and Tangier Island. The partnership’s medical drone delivery project, Drone Medical Package Delivery for Improved Transportation and Better Patient Outcomes, received funding through the Strengthening Mobility and Revolutionizing Transportation (SMART) Grants Program.

The project aims to improve access to prescription medications in rural communities, starting with delivering hypertension medications, as the Eastern Shore has a higher prevalence of hypertension than the rest of Virginia. It is divided into two stages: planning and prototyping, and implementation. In stage one, Riverside will use DroneUp’s medical cargo drones to test and plan the delivery of prescription medications in rural areas. Stage two involves deploying drones from Riverside Shore Memorial Hospital (RSMH) to deliver medications to patients’ doorsteps.

The partnership’s medical drone delivery project is set to enhance the overall health care experience for patients by bringing their prescription medication directly to their homes. The first medical cargo drone is expected to take flight from RSMH in May. Drone service delivery in rural areas will improve access to medications, patient outcomes, and overall health.

VIPC initially funded the project, and they concentrated on investing in seed funding during the early stages of technological innovation to stimulate economic growth. VISA’s role in the project includes project management, health outcomes modeling, analysis, simulation, and workforce development supporting the Accomack-Northampton Planning District Commission.

The partnership is working closely with the Department of Transportation to finalize documentation and begin project work on June 1, 2023. For more information on Riverside’s medical services on the Eastern Shore, visit

About Riverside Health System

Riverside Health System (RHS) is an integrated health network touching 2 million lives annually. Serving Eastern Virginia since 1915, Riverside is guided by a mission to “care for others as we would care for those we love.” The health system offers a variety of services and programs in the areas of prevention, primary care, diagnostics, neurosciences, oncology, orthopedics, aging-related services, rehabilitation, medical education, home care and hospice. RHS operates four acute-care hospitals and a behavioral health hospital, in addition to a physical rehabilitation hospital and a critical illness recovery hospital in partnership with Select Medical. Riverside Medical Group has more than 750 physicians and advanced practice providers across a broad spectrum of specialties in over 100 locations throughout the region. Riverside Lifelong Health operates six nursing home facilities and three vibrant continuing care retirement communities alongside Riverside Home Health and Hospice services. In addition to these health care services, RHS operates the Riverside College of Health Careers and four medical residency programs. The company employs more than 9,000 team members throughout Eastern Virginia. For more information on Riverside, visit
Riverside Health System

About Virginia Innovation Partnership Corporation (VIPC)

VIPC: Connecting innovators with opportunities. As the nonprofit operations arm of the Virginia Innovation Partnership Authority (VIPA), VIPC is the commercialization and seed stage economic development driver in the Commonwealth that leads funding, infrastructure, and policy initiatives to support Virginia’s innovators, entrepreneurs, startups, and market development strategies. VIPC collaborates with local, regional, state, and federal partners to support the expansion and diversification of Virginia’s economy.Programs include: Virginia Venture Partners (VVP) | VVP Fund of Funds (SSBCI) | Virginia Founders Fund (VFF) |Commonwealth Commercialization Fund (CCF) | Petersburg Founders Fund (PFF) | Smart Communities | The Virginia Smart Community Testbed | The Virginia Unmanned Systems Center | Virginia Advanced Air Mobility Alliance (VAAMA) | The Public Safety Innovation Center |Entrepreneurial Ecosystems | Regional Innovation Fund (RIF) | Federal Funding Assistance Program (FFAP) for SBIR & STTR | University Partnerships | Startup Company Mentoring & Engagement. For more information, please visit Follow VIPC on Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn.

Virginia Innovation Partnership Corporation (VIPC)

About VISA

The Virginia Institute for Spaceflight and Autonomy (VISA), located on the Eastern Shore, is chartered to grow the entrepreneurial ecosystems for space flight and autonomy. The Institute is the hub to leverage Virginia’s world-class assets in space launch, autonomous systems, modeling and simulation and data science to solve real-world problems, such as those being explored by DroneUp and Riverside Health. Through industry, academic and governmental agency partnerships, VISA’s vision is to create an environment of research, technology, commercialization, and educational opportunities to grow the spaceflight and autonomous systems industry.
Jessica Zimmerman

About DroneUp

DroneUp is an American technology company that combines airspace solutions, software applications, analytics platforms, and a trusted team of industry leaders to help companies operate at scale with drone innovation. DroneUp was founded in 2016 and is headquartered in Virginia Beach, VA.
Escalate PR

About A-NPDC

The Accomack-Northampton Planning District Commission (A-NPDC), created by the Commonwealth of Virginia, has been the Eastern Shore of Virginia’s regional planning organization since 1970. The Planning District Commission is comprised of elected officials from the Board of Supervisors of both Eastern Shore counties as well as town community leaders. The Planning District Commission is tasked with supporting local planning and economic development efforts and providing technical assistance on behalf of the Commonwealth.
Accomack-Northampton Planning District Commission