March 27, 2019

UPS wants to deliver (and administer) a vaccine at your door

Daily Briefing

    United Parcel Service (UPS) this year will test a service that would dispatch nurses to patients' homes to provide vaccinations.

    According to Reuters, UPS will package the vaccines at its health care complex and ship them in insulated packages to more than 4,700 UPS stores. Once a vaccine arrives at a UPS store, a home health nurse contracted by Marken—UPS' clinical trial logistics company—will retrieve the vaccine in its insulated package and transport it the "last mile" to a patient's home, where the nurse will administer the vaccine, MedCity News reports.

    UPS did not disclose which vaccines it will offer through the service, but Merck, which manufactures vaccines for illnesses such as shingles and hepatitis B, said it is looking to partner with UPS on the initiative, Reuters reports.

    According to Reuters, UPS is scheduled to launch the test later this year.

    UPS enters growing market

    The test is purposed to provide "over-the-threshold" health care services to consumers at a competitive price, according to Chris Cassidy, who leads UPS' global health care logistics strategy.

    According to Reuters, the new venture suggests UPS might be looking to be a bigger player in the $85 billion outsourced health care logistics market currently dominated by Deutsche Post's DHL Group.

    In addition, Reuters reports UPS might be responding to pressure from online shipping competitor Amazon, which is in the process of launching its joint health care venture with Berkshire Hathaway and JPMorgan Chase, and entered the drug distribution market upon by acquiring PillPack last year.

    What this could mean for patients, providers

    Chris Cassidy, who leads UPS' global health care logistics strategy, said the test is purposed to provide "over-the-threshold" health care services to consumers at a competitive price.

    Health care experts said the vaccine delivery project might help reduce health care costs by saving patients a trip to the doctors' office to receive their vaccinations and by having home nurses, rather than paid physicians, administer the vaccines, Reuters reports.

    However, insurance remains a hurdle. Marken CEO Wes Wheeler said the company currently is trying to figure out how to convince health insurers to cover the delivery service (Baertlein/Erman, Reuters, 3/22; Truong, MedCity News, 3/25; Garrity, Becker's Hospital Review, 3/22; Reed, FierceHealthcare, 3/22).

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