Leapfrogging for Last-Mile Delivery in Health Care

Claudio Lucarelli, Healthcare Management, The Wharton School, Hummy Song, Operations, Information, and Decisions, The Wharton School, and Harriet Jeon, PhD Candidate, The Wharton School

Abstract: Lowering the cost and increasing the speed of last mile delivery are major challenges for the distribution channels of most industries. These challenges are even more severe in developing countries, where a large part of the population is located in rural areas, and where the lack of physical infrastructure results in a sizable part of the population residing in isolated areas, compromising their access to important services for their investment in human capital, such as timely health care. Technological innovation has provided developing countries with alternatives to leapfrog the expensive process of incremental investment in physical infrastructure, improving in this way the connectivity of the rural population and its access to medical care. In a series of studies, we seek to understand the impact of delivery drones on health care access, quality, and cost in Rwanda. Specifically, we seek to 1) assess the impact of delivery drones on patient access to care, measured by patient flows to health care facilities, and distance traveled to receive care and 2) to assess the impact of delivery drones on health care quality, measured by clinical outcomes, including maternal mortality rates, infant mortality rates, and overall mortality rates.