The VA Teams With AT&T To Pilot 5G Seattle Healthcare System Program

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The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) Puget Sound Health Care System in Seattle has partnered with AT&T to deliver 5G capabilities to both its workers and veterans. The VA intends to pilot multiple 5G programs to improve healthcare delivery to the 9 million veterans it serves annually.

According to a joint release, the initiative is an industry-first deployment of 5G and multi-access edge computing (MEC) technologies across a VA health care and training facility. MEC can deliver real-time, high-bandwidth, low-latency access and, coupled with 5G, “holds the potential to be transformational by enabling new healthcare delivery and business models,” according to Gartner.

“This public-private partnership to test our 5G and MEC capabilities is distinguished by the scope of implementation and innovation it allows, going well beyond a single-room care environment to encompass an entire medical care and training campus,” said Chris Smith, Vice President – Civilian and Shared Services, AT&T Public Sector and FirstNet. “It’s an honor to work with the VA to explore the future of 5G and MEC-powered healthcare innovations.”

Some 5G programs that the VA could pilot include:

  • Mobile-to-mobile connectivity across/between medical devices allows tracking people and assets within the VA Puget Sound Health Care System. 
  • Improved medical procedures and training through augmented reality (AR) and virtual reality (VR), including remote and virtual pain management and surgical assistance. 

AT&T has completed the installation of a 5G Distributed Antenna System (DAS) for use with Sub6 GHz spectrum, according to Daniel Mesimer with the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs. The enabled 5G coverage is live within the VA’s Mental Health & Research building, and MEC plus 5G technologies are expected to roll out sometime this year. Mesimer added that the current infrastructure “sets the groundwork for future capabilities of mobility networks for VA users and applications.”

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