(Photo courtesy of Penn Medicine)
Data usage on smartphones and tablets has grown exponentially. And, as more items are connected to the internet, demand will continue to increase. Meanwhile, Pennsylvanians are relying on their mobile devices not just for calls, but for all means of resources — medicine, healthcare, education, entertainment and more.
As the CFO of Philly health IT startup GlobeHealer, I’ve already seen the benefits high-speed internet access has brought to patients, physicians, hospitals and other parts of the healthcare industry. Tablets and smartphones allow patients to access their medical records anytime, anywhere. They can also easily connect with doctors from all over the world using video conferencing apps and built-in programming.
But those devices are far less useful without readily available mobile data.
Small cells can help us expand on these innovations and continue to create new ways of improving care. Small cells are small pieces of wireless equipment that are used to provide additional capacity in high-traffic areas so internet users can experience faster download speeds, improved call quality and a better overall wireless experience.
We need more capacity now in order to keep innovation moving at a pace that keeps the medical and healthcare industry on the cutting edge. For example, when a severely ill person is rushed to an emergency room, doctors and nurses need to respond immediately. If the patient’s relevant medical data is immediately accessible, made possible thanks to faster download and data-transfer speeds, that saves time, lives and cost.
Similarly, post-operative patients are at risk of infection and dehydration, and connected wearables and data give healthcare professionals real-time access to vital signs and other biometric data. This means that patients can recuperate safely at home while also being able to stay connected to their medical providers. These connected wearables must be able to transmit information in real time; essentially, they depend on modern, fast wireless infrastructure in order to function properly.
5G is the next generation of broadband technology that will enable such connectivity between patients, physicians and hospitals. It will make healthcare more accessible to all, no matter where you are, and streamline communication between patients and their healthcare providers, all while maintaining confidentiality and security of patient information. Additionally, small cells help lay the groundwork for future technologies, such as the Internet of Things (IoT), which is poised to transform the healthcare industry.
Why lawmakers must act
Wireless providers have already started deploying this technology across the nation, and Pennsylvania needs to be part of it.
Today, wireless companies have to go city by city to negotiate agreements for small cells, encountering both delays and uncertainty. That’s why we need new statewide rules, as set forth in HB 2564. This proposed legislation would hasten the installation of this new technology. Smart, streamlined rules will trigger new investment in our communities to provide much-needed increased capacity. That will enable even more rapidity and efficiency in data and imaging transmission, remote monitoring, communicating with patients in foreign countries and in other languages, and the use of artificial intelligence for remote monitoring. This is the future of the healthcare industry, and we must be a part of it in order for both local economies and local tech companies like GlobeHealer to succeed.
The deployment of small cells will help place Pennsylvania at the forefront of innovation, open the door to investments in our wireless networks and help bring future — and potentially life-saving technology innovations — to our state. With small cells in place, we can begin to unlock the true potential of digital innovation in healthcare outside the four walls of a hospital or clinical setting.-30-
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