Transforming Healthcare through Next Generation Networks Reviewed by Momizat on . Transforming Healthcare through Next Generation Networks By Rebecca Murphy Thompson, EVP & General Counsel, CCA The next wave of mobile connectivity is fast Transforming Healthcare through Next Generation Networks By Rebecca Murphy Thompson, EVP & General Counsel, CCA The next wave of mobile connectivity is fast Rating: 0
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Transforming Healthcare through Next Generation Networks

Transforming Healthcare through Next Generation Networks
By Rebecca Murphy Thompson, EVP & General Counsel, CCA

The next wave of mobile connectivity is fast approaching and it has the potential to disrupt and transform entire industries, including one of our nation’s most critical: healthcare. Although next-generation technologies and 5G networks are still in their infancy, carriers are investing in significant upfront capital to such a degree that it is spurring a rush in the healthcare field as medical providers realize the potential of faster connections and access to higher bandwidths. Not only does 5G’s potential stand to benefit consumers, but a stronger mobile broadband backbone means faster and more robust adoption of remote monitoring capabilities, better access to virtual care options, and a transformation of healthcare delivery in America. It means saving American lives.

Faster, more reliable networks have accelerated the trend toward telehealth throughout the healthcare system. Indeed, in December 2017, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) took an important step toward advancing telehealth in unserved and underserved areas when it adopted its Rural Healthcare Notice of Proposed Rulemaking and Order.  As adopted, the item seeks to provide $400 million in annual support for broadband services to eligible healthcare providers.  Similarly, Congress has turned its attention to telehealth services, particularly those that help to fight the opioid addiction plaguing the United States.

Together, these efforts mean that medical practitioners can deliver the same level of care provided in a doctor’s office to patients miles away. Telehealth has evolved as an answer to reaching patients in hard-to-serve areas, including rural America. But as adoption grows, more and more providers are looking to telehealth as a way to lower costs and meet the needs of every American, whether rural, suburban, or urban. Because, when access to a doctor or other healthcare professional is more convenient and less costly, the health of the nation improves.

However, upgrading the wireless infrastructure necessary to meet the growing demand for high-quality connections and more data-intense use cases will require a new type of network, based on next-generation technology. Fortunately, the 5G roadmaps that have been announced by certain wireless carriers have the potential to change the equation for healthcare providers and usher in a new wave of adoption for telehealth platforms and use cases.

The technology is ready to go, but we still have some work to do to make sure that industry is ready.

For carriers to deliver advanced wireless services and reach customers in all corners of the country, the patchwork of burdensome and inconsistent siting requirements must be modernized. Under current law, the small cell antennas responsible for creating our 5G networks—which are roughly the size of a backpack—are treated the same by regulators as a traditional wireless tower. Simply put, the regulations of yesterday inhibit the wireless industry from deploying the broadband infrastructure capable of delivering the mobile services of tomorrow.

If the FCC and Congress are looking for additional ways to get next-generation networks in the hands of America’s hospitals and medical facilities, they must remove the bureaucratic red tape and streamline the process for 5G deployment. Already, the Administration, the FCC, and Congress have announced their desire to work together to clear the path necessary to make America a leader in 5G by announcing a number of common sense reforms. In fact, this week the FCC is considering a vote on an Order set to modernize and streamline the historic and environmental review processes for infrastructure deployments.

As demonstrated by the technologies already enabling the current generation of telehealth applications, meeting the growing demand for high-quality connections is not a technological question. It is a question of how quickly our nation’s wireless carriers can deploy the technology available today—and how quickly these networks become available to doctors, physicians, and other healthcare professionals to transform healthcare delivery throughout the country. And the answer lies with smart policies adopted by the FCC and supported by Congress and the Administration.

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