Rush to become first 5G hospital system in U.S.
Mobile data is about to get a lot faster at the Rush System for Health in Chicago. The hospital system has partnered with AT&T to become what it says is the first in the nation to use a standards-based 5G network in a healthcare setting.
Rush is also implementing AT&T's Multi-Access Edge Computing, a cloud-based service that will help the hospital system "manage its cellular traffic over both its local network and its wide area network."
"We strongly believe 5G is a game-changing technology that when fully implemented will help us support better hospital operations as well as provide the highest quality patient and staff experience," said Dr. Shafiq Rab, senior vice president and chief information officer at Rush.
WHY IT MATTERS
A faster and more-responsive mobile network is critical in maintaining a large clinically integrated health system of hospitals and other care providers.
Rab imagines a scenario where a doctor can perform a remote video consult or download a large lab file in seconds. Healthcare systems that are looking to futureproof or implement cutting-edge technologies rely on high speed and low latency IT networks to facilitate the rapid exchange of data or to allow clinicians to perform more detailed work from greater distances.
"The technology will enhance access to care, even from long distances, while also helping to decrease costs and improve efficiency. The cutting-edge applications we're implementing need a fast, reliable network to support them," said Rab.
THE LARGER TREND
5G is more than just an upgrade of 3 or 4G. It encompasses a multitude of communications technologies including cellular, Wi-Fi and intelligent edge services. It promises a massive boost in transfer speeds that things like distributed computing or IoT devices in healthcare need to reach their full potential.
Remote medicine, while hardly a new phenomenon, is growing at leaps and bounds both in terms of the quality of data that can be captured, sent and computed, as well as the speed at which it can be transferred. Greater network speeds mean that the trend of "anytime, anywhere" medicine will continue to grow.
ON THE RECORD
"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 Mo Katibeh, chief marketing officer, AT&T Business. "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."
Benjamin Harris is a Maine-based freelance writer and and former new media producer for HIMSS Media.