We hear so much about the consumer applications of 4G mobile speeds that it is easy to forget the commercial applications alongside all those twenty-somethings watching surfing tournaments on their iPads. Today, Sprint Nextel (NYSE:S, news, filings) and AirStrip announced a collaboration designed to leverage Sprint's 3G/WiMAX network and devices to provide better care for medical patients. 3G works also of course, but one can more easily imagine the potential future impact at 4G speeds.
AirStrip supplies applications for remote patient monitoring, delivering real-time waveform data directly from hospital equipment to healthcare providers wirelessly. Anywhere. Privacy is maintained by not storing the data on remote devices thus making copying the data difficult. One can imagine a hospital entirely wirelessly enabled, thus empowering staff to respond immediately to issues that arise and enabling new, more powerful organizational structures that serve patients better. Of course they might also use it such that nurses can handle even more patients at once and be even more overworked, or so that doctors can get in more golfing time while keeping an eye on patients from the fourth tee. It all depends on what you do with it I guess.
Sounds like a lot of data too actually, with all that equipment on all the time being monitored by all those people. I expect the next generation of hospital data networks will be quite transformative, but also more complicated to design and manage than the initial concept might suggest. But if they get it right, will health care costs go down as a result? Wouldn't bet on that. Hah.