Rush is the US' first 5G hospital — Here's what that means

Hospitals are beginning to take interest in 5G, the newest generation of cellular internet connectivity. In fact, a healthcare network in Chicago recently became the first 5G-enabled hospital in the U.S.

Five things to know about 5G, its potential impact on healthcare and why Rush System for Health decided to be the first hospital to deploy it:

1. 5G is the next generation of internet speed, which can reputedly load websites and download songs at least 10 times faster than 4G, according to CNN. Telecommunications companies have recently touted the technology's potential, despite the fact it's not expected to replace 4G in the U.S. until 2020.

2. Rush System for Health, an academic health system in Chicago, plans to become the first 5G-enabled hospital in the U.S. through an agreement it recently signed with AT&T. Rush's 5G project will kick off later this month, with improvements made throughout 2019, according to a news release published Jan. 8.

3. As part of the project with Rush, AT&T will help integrate 5G into various parts of the hospital. Rush primarily will use 5G to connect applications, devices, robotics and people to streamline hospital operations and explore the use of internet-connected mobile devices in technology-driven therapies.

4. Shafiq Rab, MD, senior vice president and CIO at Rush, said 5G internet has potential to support telehealth. "Imagine sometime in the not too distant future, for example a doctor performing a virtual visit with a patient, while downloading an entire MRI scan within seconds," he said in a news release.

5. In addition to faster internet speed, 5G also holds promise for technologies like artificial intelligence, given its ability to transfer data quickly. AT&T has suggested 5G in the hospital setting will make it easier to deploy products like intelligent scheduling for patient care rooms.

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