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How Wireless Is Transforming Healthcare

Tue, 03/02/2010 - 6:16am

The healthcare industry is going through a major transformation and wireless technology will serve as a key enabler of this shift, noted Sprint Nextel (NYSE: S) CEO Dan Hesse in his keynote at the Healthcare Information and Management Systems Society (HIMSS) annual conference.

“In the remote healthcare setting with the continuing decline of home telephone lines and the less than universal availability of broadband, mobile technologies are shaping up to be a cornerstone for information transmission in the future of remote medicine.”

Hesse shared examples of advanced wireless technologies and how they are enabling healthcare providers today to connect people, devices,and systems in new and transforming ways. He also noted future trends such as the increasing use of wireless data transactions and the growing significance of 4G technology.

“With rising healthcare costs and numerous challenges impacting every aspect of care, healthcare providers are using wireless to increase efficiency and better manage costs,” says Hesse. “Healthcare providers are going even further by using wireless to achieve some truly remarkable, transformative advancements in delivering faster, better patient care.”

With wireless technology being an essential part of everyday life for nearly 277 million Americans, it is changing the paradigm of how healthcare is administered. Internet savvy consumers today expect immediate access to health information and care anytime, anyplace. Last year, 89 percent of wireless Internet users sought health information online.

Similarly, caregivers are using smartphones equipped with medical applications for instant, secure access to lab results, x-rays, vital signs, drug-to-drug interactions, and other vital medical records. These trends further validate the key role that wireless will play in shaping the future of healthcare by enabling innovative and cost-effective approaches in delivering quality care.

“Mobile wireless applications within healthcare are rapidly increasing and becoming a more common sight within the hospital environment opening a wealth of opportunities for workflow solutions and simply making information more accessible,” explains Zachary Bujnoch, an analyst at the research firm Frost & Sullivan. “In the remote healthcare setting with the continuing decline of home telephone lines and the less than universal availability of broadband, mobile technologies are shaping up to be a cornerstone for information transmission in the future of remote medicine.”

4G Technology A Game-Changer For Healthcare

As information transactions between healthcare providers become more data-intense, like live streaming video, on-demand applications and virtual office visits: wireless networks will need a lot more bandwidth to handle these data-centric exchanges and to do it instantly. 4G technology holds the promise of taking mobile medicine to another level in healthcare.

With a recent study by ABI Research predicting 2.5 billion connected data-centric devices in use worldwide by 2014, 4G technology will make it easier for healthcare providers to expand their reach to advanced wireless devices beyond just smartphones. Imagine what these connected devices could mean for mobile health care, remote monitoring and home healthcare. For example, 4G could enable:

  • real-time virtual collaboration between colleagues across states;
  • large radiology images to be accessed from anywhere to speed-up diagnostics and care plan execution;
  • live surgery to be broadcast through a wireless video transmission in real time without having to wire an operating room;
  • an ambulance to broadcast live video of EMTs treating a patient while on the way to the hospital. The EMTs could upload patient stats and stream live video to the on-call doctor, shortening the time from patient arrival to surgery.
  • These are all powerful scenarios that 4G-connected devices and applications would be capable of enabling.

Source: Business Wire

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