doctors looking at tablet computer (metamorworks/Shutterstock.com)

5G boosts VA network at Miami, Puget Sound facilities

The Department of Veterans Affairs is installing 5G networks at its Miami and Puget Sound health care facilities.

Working with T-Mobile, which currently provides the in-building 4G LTE wireless connectivity at the Miami Health Care System, the VA will install in-building 5G radios for 2.5 GHz spectrum to deliver speeds of 300 megabit/sec with peaks up to 1 gigabit/sec.

The faster network will allow medical teams to quickly move and access large, complex data files, such as imaging results, labs and medical charts, without having to be tethered to a computer, the company said.

T-Mobile already provides up to 70,000 lines of wireless service to doctors, nurses and hospital staff across VA hospitals and has helped enhance access to the VA's telehealth platform, VA Video Connect.

“Groundbreaking collaborative partnerships like this play an important role in our success moving forward and we are grateful to T-Mobile for their continued commitment to the partnership with VA,” said Deborah Scher, who is executive advisor to the VA secretary.

The VA is also working with AT&T to roll out a 5G network and multi-access edge computing (MEC) technologies at the Puget Sound Health Care System in Seattle.

While AT&T is installing a 5G distributed antenna system across the campus, the new mental health and research building now has 5G coverage. The VA expects further deployments of MEC and 5G spectrum later this year throughout the complex.

5G has important implications for telemedicine, which is becoming critical to veteran health care.

“Effective telemedicine requires a network that can support near real-time high-quality video without slowing down the facility’s network,” said Daniel Meismer, an official in the VA’s Office of Information and Technology. “Adding a high-speed 5G network to existing architectures can support near real-time video for video-based medical consultations to improve access to care, quality of care and care outcomes.”

In February 2020, the VA’s Palo Alto Health Care System became the first 5G-enabled hospital in the department, working with Verizon, Microsoft and augmented reality software provider Medivis. The network powers augmented reality for clinical training, presurgical planning and operative guidance.

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