Boston Children's Hospital, T-Mobile ink deal on 1st hybrid 5G network

Boston Children's Hospital and T-Mobile are partnering to launch the first hybrid 5G network at a health system.

The collaboration will allow Boston Children's providers and patients to seamlessly transport smart devices from the hospital to remote settings, like the home, where healthcare is increasingly being delivered. The project is expected to go live early next year, powering tens of thousands of devices right off the bat. It will also boost mobile access to Boston Children's new Epic EHR, which is set to be ready in summer 2024.

"Our physicians, our care teams are all over. They have to be able to make quick clinical decisions," Heather Nelson, senior vice president and CIO of Boston Children's, told Becker's. "And if they can have that information at the ready on their phones or an iPad, that's where this is really going to help us."

While Cleveland Clinic notably launched a private 5G network at its newest hospital in July, the Boston Children's project is unique in that it's a hybrid model where devices stay on the same network where they're inside or outside the hospital. This also marks T-Mobile's first partnership with a hospital or health system.

"This really is truly the first time in a nation that a hospital will now be able to say wherever a doctor, a nurse, any clinician is, the procedures that they could do with all the applications follow them, and they do so in a way that's absolutely predictable and absolutely performant in what they expect," said Mike Feld, founder and CEO of health IT consultant Pixel Health, which is assisting with the deployment.

"We know that the demands of healthcare are extremely high: Security is paramount and connectivity has to be ubiquitous everywhere and just not something that anyone thinks about," said Chris Melus, vice president of product management at T-Mobile. "Connectivity is the foundation of all the amazing things that BCH and Pixel are going to do to build on top of this."

Those could include location-aware critical medical device tracking and AI for clinician workflows, he said.

"This is just that underpinning technology to do what we need to do for patient care and for research, whether it's sending a kid home with a monitoring system, or doing some innovative research in our generative AI lab," Ms. Nelson said. "Being able to have a consistent, reliable experience, from a network perspective, whether you're a nurse, a physician, a researcher or a patient, is really what we're shooting for."

"More and more patients, especially with the pandemic, want to be able to do things virtually, they want care as close to home as possible," she added. "And we as a healthcare provider have to make sure we have those things available to them. And from a technology perspective, I have to be able to enable that for our care teams and our researchers."

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