The United Parcel Service Inc. is planning to take a step into the home health care marketplace. In a pilot test program, UPS will be sending nurses into patient homes to apply vaccines the shipping company will send to any number of its more than 4,700 UPS stores.
While the initial test is only focused on vaccinations, the results could lead this and other shipping companies to dive deeper into the home health care market. While the average home care agency may not be involved in direct nursing care or vaccinations, the goal of this test is to determine whether UPS can actually make something of this magnitude work effectively and safely.
The test will begin later in the year. According to a Reuters news article, UPS eyes in-home health services with US vaccine project, published by Fox Business:
“Here is how the test, slated to launch later this year, will operate: Workers in UPS’ 1.7 million-square-foot healthcare complex at Worldport will package and ship the vaccine to one of the more 4,700 franchised U.S. UPS stores. A home health nurse contracted by UPS’ clinical trial logistics unit known as Marken will collect the insulated package, transport it the “last mile” to the patient’s home and administer the vaccine, which will target a viral illness in adults.
The aim of the test is to “see if we can connect all these dots,” said Wes Wheeler, chief executive at Marken, which was purchased by UPS in 2016 and is overseeing the vaccine project.”
UPS and other shipping services have noticed a trend downward in recent years as former customer turned rival Amazon has been developing its own logistics and shipping services. With fewer deliveries as a result, the company has turned to other outlets as a way to continue growing and expanding its services.
Now Amazon is also looking at ways to lower prescription drug prices, first for its employees and perhaps for other consumers beyond that. UPS has been teamed up with Merck, which has a significant portfolio of vaccines that are used to combat many viral illnesses, ranging from shingles to the flu.
If successful, this new UPS program could save consumers and the healthcare insurance industry significant sums of money by having licensed, registered nurses administering vaccinations rather than more expensive doctors requiring patients to visit them in their office.
The home care sector is certainly changing and the numbers and types of players entering the marketplace may alter it vastly more in the next couple of decades.