Sprint CEO Highlights Wireless in Healthcare

Mon, 03/01/2010 - 7:16am
Monica Alleven

As healthcare dominates the national airwaves, Sprint CEO Dan Hesse took the stage at the Healthcare Information and Management Systems Society (HIMSS) annual conference in Atlanta today to discuss how wireless technology will serve as a key enabler in the transformation of the healthcare industry.

At Sprint, executives believe there is a historic opportunity for wireless to transform healthcare by boosting efficiency, raising quality and reducing costs, Hesse said, calling on attendees to share their insights on what approaches are most needed.

Sprint works with a lot of different industries – manufacturing, transportation, government and more – but if pressed to pick the one industry facing the biggest gap between the need for change and the use of wireless to support that change, Hesse said it would be healthcare. He ticked off several shifts in the healthcare industry, including rising costs and new regulations for more electronic patient records.

Healthcare telecom spending is growing; it is expected to be up 44 percent over the next three years (from $8.6 billion to $12.4 billion), and wireless apps, devices and solutions will account for almost two-thirds of that added spending, Hesse said, according to a transcript of his speech Today, almost two-thirds of physicians use a smartphone, and more than 80 percent will be using a smartphone in two years.

Hesse discussed some examples of what the wireless industry is doing now to help improve healthcare, including how inputting patient information into a smartphone can eliminate mistakes related to bad handwriting. There's even an app that analyzes a person's cough.

But he also looked to the future and took the opportunity to highlight Sprint's 4G service in Atlanta. With 4G networks, physicians across time zones can collaborate virtually and consult with patients in their homes via an in-room monitor; live surgery can be broadcast through a wireless video transmission real time; and specialists can download large radiology images on a mobile device to speed up diagnostics.

Other keynoters for the conference this week are Chesley "Sully" Sullenberger III, the pilot who landed U.S. Airways Flight 1549 on the Hudson River; Sanjay Gupta, senior medical correspondent at CNN; David Blumenthal, national coordinator for Health Information Technology; and Harry Markopolos, the investigator credited for bringing down Bernard Madoff's fraud scheme.


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