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Broadband Mobile Should Change mHealth Game

Posted on June 22, 2012 I Written By

Anne Zieger is a healthcare journalist who has written about the industry for 30 years. Her work has appeared in all of the leading healthcare industry publications, and she's served as editor in chief of several healthcare B2B sites.

You never know what you’re going to learn when you wander into a cell phone store,  other than being hit with some fairly slick marketing slicks and rapid-fire pitched on that sweet, sweet iPhone upgrade. (Sorry, letting my Apple lust get in the way here.)

In all seriousness, this time I learned something which excited the heck out of me. While this is probably old news to some readers, I was surprised to learn that the cellphone industry is now rolling out support for new mobile protocols allowing for dramatic improvements in broadband mobile speeds.

One standard, LTE, can offer peak downlink rates of 300 Mbps and peak uplinks of 75 Mbps.  LTE, which takes advantage of new digital signal processing techniques developed roughly 10 years ago, is being rolled out by more or less every major U.S. carrier. Existing 4G networks are should shoot up in capacity as well. The next revision of the family to which 4G belongs, standards-wise,  should have a throughput capacity of 627 Mbps.

So let’s bring this around to our ongoing EMR discussions.  What are the HIT implications of these mobile nodes having the throughput to process live streaming video, download multiple imaging studies, conference effortlessly with parties across the world and more?

Well, for one thing, it’s pretty clear that our idea of mHealth will have to change. It makes no sense to plan networks around data sipping apps like the current iPhone crop when you’ll soon have iPads, Android devices and even Microsoft’s Surface tablet drinking it in gulps.

Obviously, the whole notion of telemedicine will evolve dramatically, with roving doctors and nurses consulting effortlessly over mobile video.  Skype calls will be as easy to conduct as traditional calls. And reviewing charts from the road will make much more sense, including looks at, say, CT scan results.

But all of this wonderfulness will be severely constrained if EMR makers keep forcing clinicians to use their systems via mobile-hostile devices. This is the time — this month, week and even day — to admit that desktop computers aren’t the platform of choice for smart clinicians.Vendors will have to step up with native clients for remote devices, and moreover, clients that take advantage of the emerging high-speed phones and tablets. If they hang back, the whole mobile high-speed revolution won’t be happpening.

Wireless 2G, 3G and 4G for Healthcare Applications

Posted on October 19, 2010 I Written By

John Lynn is the Founder of the blog network which currently consists of 10 blogs containing over 8000 articles with John having written over 4000 of the articles himself. These EMR and Healthcare IT related articles have been viewed over 16 million times. John also manages Healthcare IT Central and Healthcare IT Today, the leading career Health IT job board and blog. John is co-founder of and John is highly involved in social media, and in addition to his blogs can also be found on Twitter: @techguy and @ehrandhit and LinkedIn.

Today I’m attending the Mobile Health Conference (mHealth) conference in Las Vegas. So far it’s been a pretty effective conference for me already. Although, I’ve gotten most of the value from the people and vendors I’ve met and talked with. Although, is that really any surprise at a conference. More about those meetings later.

In this morning’s keynote conversation, they had executives from T-Mobile, AT&T and Sprint that spoke and then did a short panel discussion. I must admit that I’d hoped for more from the panel discussion and I probably would have rather just had the whole thing a panel discussion. With that said, the most interesting topic they discussed was the 2G, 3G, and 4G topic.

Of course, they didn’t really dig into the different wireless signals like I would have liked to see. However, the executive from T-mobile said both in his speech and in the panel discussion that they’re committed to supporting 2G for 10 more years. Then, he offered this whopper: that most mHealth applications work perfectly fine on 2G and don’t actually need the higher 3G and 4G speeds.

He’s actually right that most health applications do work fine on 2G. However, I can’t help but wonder if that’s a function of there just not being enough 3G and 4G coverage to make it reasonable for a company to make an app that will only work on those faster networks.

From what I’ve seen in the internet world, applications will grow to use whatever resources they are given. Plus, there’s some applications that never get built until they have the resources to make it a reasonable reality.

So, while it may be true that the health applications of today generally work well on 2G, it’s worth asking what applications would we have if 3G and 4G were more widely available? I think we’re getting close to the point that we’ll find out. I imagine most EMR software would be happy to use whatever bandwidth you give them. Not to mention it would improve the user experience.

A few other quick hits:
-The AT&T executive (I believed) argued that they’re getting 4G speeds with 3G technology. So, why should they move to 4G?
-The Sprint executive nailed it on the head when he said that time is the economy of today. Higher speeds and better applications will save people time and that’s valuable.
-I can’t help but wonder where Verizon is. 3 out of 4 isn’t bad though.