Sprint CEO pitches WiMAX to healthcare industry

Sprint's Dan Hesse touts benefits to mobile telemedicine, patient privacy

Sprint CEO Dan Hesse continued his company's aggressive push for its 4G services Monday by pitching the virtues of WiMAX to the healthcare industry.

Sprint CEO Dan Hesse continued his company's aggressive push for its 4G services Monday by pitching the virtues of WiMAX to the healthcare industry.

During a keynote lecture at the Healthcare Information Management Systems Society conference in Atlanta, Hesse encouraged healthcare providers to take a long look at Sprint's 4G WiMAX services, which he said would give them "secure, licensed spectrum" they could use to transmit information safely. Hesse said that this would provide a distinct security advantage from Wi-Fi technology that relies on unlicensed spectrum.How emerging wireless techs are transforming healthcare

Additionally, Hesse said that WiMAX would expand the reach of what different medical devices could accomplish over a wireless network.

"4G technology also will make it easier for healthcare providers to expand their reach to advanced wireless devices beyond just phones," said Hesse, who went on to note that "there will be TVs, netbooks, remote monitoring devices and video conferencing devices" that would all come with embedded WiMAX chipsets in the near future.

Hesse said that one of the biggest reasons healthcare providers should adopt wireless broadband is to help them better accommodate patients who prefer to get their care from home. Since WiMAX allows for better live video streaming than current 3G technologies, Hesse argued that it could become a key tool to help doctors consult with their patients remotely.

"As the population ages, home healthcare is growing dramatically," Hesse said. "And we believe it can greatly benefit from mobile technologies."

Demand for high-speed wireless Internet is seen by some analysts as a key driver among healthcare providers for 4G services such as WiMAX and LTE. A study released last summer by ABI Research projected that there will be approximately 15 million wireless telehealth sensors and devices in use by 2012, or more than double the number of wireless telehealth systems in use today. ABI says that these systems will be used primarily to "monitor and track the status of patients with chronic conditions" so that their providers can detect early warning signs before they become dangerous.

Sprint, in conjunction with its partners at Clearwire, claims to have signed up more than 430,000 subscribers for its 4G WiMAX services so far. The companies are aiming to reach more than 120 million points of presence by year-end, as they plan to commercially launch services in major markets such as New York, Boston, Washington, D.C., Houston and San Francisco. Sprint's WiMAX services are the fastest mobile data services on the market and will likely remain that way at least until Verizon launches its 4G LTE services commercially later this year.

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