VA expands 5G hospital pilot sites to Florida and Seattle 

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The Department of Veterans Affairs is extending its 5G hospital innovation project from its Palo Alto, Calif.-based hospital to additional facilities in Florida and Seattle, NextGov reports.

VA recently signed a letter of intent to begin expanding the department's 5G efforts, said Ryan Vega, MD, executive director of the Veterans Heath Administration's Innovation Ecosystem, according to the Nov. 20 report.

VA unveiled the project, named Project Convergence, in February as part of a public-private partnership with Verizon, Microsoft and medical software developer Medvis. Through the collaboration, Verizon provides a 5G network connection, Microsoft offers its HoloLens information delivery platform and headset used with Medvis' imaging software and surgical navigation system. The combined tech allows officials to view health information in interactive 3D holograms and models.

"Just to put this into context of what this means — imagine being a surgeon in the operating room, and you see the patient lying on the table, and you're wearing the Microsoft HoloLens, or any other glasses that sort of can project, an augmented reality image," Dr. Vega said. "You can actually take a patient's MRI or CT scan, and place it over the patient and actually see below the surface before you make any incision."

In addition to the VA Palo Alto Health Care System, the department is considering expanding the project to a VA facility in Lake Nona, Fla., and another in Seattle. VA has already begun work at the Florida facility and is looking to extend efforts to the Puget Sound VA Medical Center in Seattle.

VA is targeting a few additional sites to expand the project to in fiscal year 2022.

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