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Rush System Launches First 5G Wireless Network in US Hospital

Chicago-based Rush System for Health is teaming with AT&T to become the first US hospital to use a standards-based 5G wireless network in a healthcare environment.

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Source: Thinkstock

By Fred Donovan

- Chicago-based Rush System for Health is teaming with AT&T to become the first US hospital to use a standards-based 5G wireless network in a healthcare environment, the health system announced Jan. 8.

Using AT&T’s cloud-based IT service environment at the edge of the network, Rush will be able to manage its cellular traffic over both its local network and wide area network.

This will enable Rush to meet its network communications and application processing needs for data, enhance the use cases across its system, and improve the patient experience.

Rush is using the 5G technology to enable applications, people, medical devices, and robotics in the hospital. Rush and AT&T said they plan to explore the use of mobile technology in technology-driven therapies and to improve hospital operations. The 5G project will kick off this month.

“High-speed, low-latency 5G technology will help enable care to be delivered virtually anywhere at any time,” said Shafiq Rab, senior vice president and chief information officer at Rush University Medical Center and the Rush System for Health.

“The technology will enhance access to care, even from long distances, while also helping to decrease costs and improve efficiency. Imagine sometime in the not too distant future, for example a doctor performing a virtual visit with a patient while downloading an entire MRI scan within seconds. The cutting-edge applications we’re implementing need a fast, reliable network to support them.”

“AT&T believes ultimately 5G’s fast speeds and ultra-low latency will transform all businesses, and Rush is leading the way in healthcare,” said AT&T Business Chief Marketing Officer Mo Katibeh. 

“Imagine a hospital where rooms are intelligently scheduled, patient care is enhanced with artificial intelligence and augmented reality is used in training medical students. It sounds like the future, but it’s not that far off. And we want to help make it happen.”

5G wireless technology provides speeds up to 20 Gbps

5G wireless technology provides network speeds of up to 20 Gbps, much faster than 4G LTE, which typically clocks in around 1 Gbps. 5G’s improvement over current wireless broadband technology enables healthcare organizations to support bigger data sets and faster network connections.

Market Reports Center forecasted the 5G market will grow at a compound annual growth rate of 70 percent, accounting for $28 billion in annual spending by the end of 2025. Infrastructure investments will be complemented by annual shipments of up to 520 million 5G-capable devices.

The report predicted that large-scale commercial trials will increase by five times through 2021.

5G enables wireless networks to provide mobile broadband and IoT services as well as support robotics, self-driving cars, remote surgery, 3D holographic telepresence, and other technology advances.

Key 5G-enabling technologies include higher frequency radio access, air interface design, flexible duplex schemes, advanced antenna systems, dynamic spectrum access, device-to-device connectivity, self-backhauling, and network slicing.

Upgrading the bandwidth of cellular connections to 5G can provide clinicians and patients using smartphones with better and faster connections. 5G can also better serve telehealth clinicians and patients who are streaming video conferences or transmitting large data sets.

Healthcare organizations are eager to embrace IoT devices, and cellular networks can provide a more robust network alternative to WiFi.

“Cellular is more robust in an environment,” Taoglas Co-Founder and Co-CEO Dermot O’Shea told HITInfrastructure.com. “It’s never a problem if too many people are using cellular to log onto the network like it is with WiFi. That’s often the problem in a hospital; there’s too many people using the network at the same time and it slows down the network.”

“If IoT devices can diagnose people in advance then that saves huge costs,” O’Shea said. “We can see nothing but benefits from medical devices being connected. Working with medical device companies brings a much larger delta of savings and benefits than any other vertical.”

The more devices are introduced into health IT infrastructures, the more robust and reliable the network needs to be. 5G is important to healthcare entities because it will enable them to embrace more life-saving and efficiency boosting devices.

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