Sprint CEO Hesse Says Mobile Devices Benefit Health Care

Sprint Nextel CEO Dan Hesse's keynote address at the annual HIMSS conference emphasizes the health care advances that high-speed wireless connectivity such as Sprint's 4G network with Clearwire can make possible.

Mobile solutions powered by high-speed networks will continue to help the health care industry improve the treatment of patients and drive down costs, Sprint Nextel CEO Dan Hesse said in his keynote address at the annual conference of the Healthcare Information and Management Systems Society March 1.
"Today, on a planet of 6.8 billion people, there are more than 4 billion active cell phones-more mobile phones in the world than TVs, PCs and cars combined. The cell phone is the most rapidly adopted technology in the history of this planet," Hesse told HIMSS attendees. "Here in America, wireless services are a part of daily life for more than 277 million of us. High mobile phone penetration provides an incredible opportunity for us to work together to improve health care and health care access, regardless of location, age, gender or disability."
Hesse offered statistics on the health care industry, including that the number of physicians using smartphones is expected reach 80 percent by 2012, and that e-prescriptions could save the U.S. health care system up to $27 million a year. He described impressive health IT advancements, such as an ultrasound probe that operates on a half-watt of power from a cell phone, and a pill that a patient could swallow to allow his doctor to wirelessly monitor medicine in his system.
"As we move toward 4G networks, the pill will be equipped not only to send the data to my physician; it will send images, too, straight to my doctor's wireless device," Hesse said. "4G smartphones will be out this year, and they will come with very high-resolution screens, Blu-ray-quality."
Hesse additionally offered a plea to the industry for cooperation-saying, "Even the best technology company cannot seize [this historic] opportunity on its own. We need you"-while also naming health care as the industry with the largest gap between the "need for change and the use of wireless technology to support that change."
Growing challenges, Hesse said, are today being faced by facilities still relying on aging infrastructure.
"Internet-savvy patients and families expect access to health information and care any time, any place," Hesse said. "Health care telecom spending is growing; it is expected to be up 44 percent over the next three years, from $8.6 billion to $12.4 billion. Wireless apps, devices and solutions will account for almost two-thirds of that added spending. In short, there could not be a better time for a new kind of partnership between us than right now."
The HIMSS conference is taking place in Atlanta, which is one of 27 markets in which Sprint, through Clearwire, now offers 4G service-the major asset that Sprint would like to deliver to the health care industry. In a statement on the event, the carrier said 4G could enable benefits such as access to large radiology images from anywhere, wireless broadcasts of live surgery and real-time, virtual collaboration among far-flung colleagues.
"We are entering a time when every device that can be connected will be connected to the Internet and to other devices," Hesse concluded. "This trend is creating new and compelling business models that are changing the way many industries operate. It will certainly change health care."
Also on March 1, Nuance Communications introduced a series of mobile offerings for the health care industry. Nuance is known for its speech-based applications for the iPhone. And days earlier, 3M Health Information Systems released mobile dictation software for the iPhone platform.