Viewpoint: Telemedicine needs 5G before it can transform healthcare 

While telemedicine presents great potential to both expand patient access to care and reduce costs, it needs 5G to help boost its full capabilities, according to Bea Grause and Arthur Fougner.

In a Feb. 24 op-ed for the USA Today network, Ms. Grause and Mr. Fougner, who serve as president of the New York State healthcare association and president of the New York State Medical Society, respectively, explained the benefits 5G wireless technology would bring to telemedicine.

These technology upgrades will help advance telemedicine as the U.S. hurdles toward a predicted deficit of up to 121,900 physicians by 2032, according to the Association of American Medical Colleges, the authors wrote.

"5G, the next evolution of wireless connectivity, will not only advance telemedicine — it will transform the future delivery of healthcare and every aspect of modern life, from basic interpersonal and business communication to transportation, economic development and education," the co-authors wrote.

5G-enabled technology will help advance remote consultations and assessments, which provide access to highly needed critical health services for patients but can also generate cost savings. For example, patient transportation costs have been viewed as a high cost driver in Medicaid; expanding telemedicine services could alleviate some of those associated costs, Ms. Grause and Mr. Fougner wrote.

The next generation of internet speed will also equip patients' home devices with the ability to send their providers real-time data on blood pressure, weight and glucose levels, among other data. Physicians will also be able to more quickly download and securely transfer large files of data such as X-rays and CT scans.

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