mHealth Needs 4G

There, I said it. The rest of you can sit on the fence saying that connected applications for healthcare are doing fine for the time being on the 2G network, but I am not buying it.

When the idea around mHealth is for me to upload my vitals to the cloud for my doctor to review, I think a high rate of data transfer shouldn’t be too much to ask for. And those that are resided to the fact that things are going along fine with 2G for healthcare applications, simply have a vested interest in maintaining the relevancy of the network for the near term.

Last week I discussed whether or not 3G still had a place in M2M, or whether it was simply stuck in the middle. I stand by that, as well as the idea that 4G/LTE on the whole still is not ready for primetime. But speaking to the latter, until it is ready for primetime we won’t see connected healthcare truly take off.

And perhaps it all speaks to a bigger issue around network considerations in general. Perhaps we are all too focused on what ‘G’ is right for ‘M2M’ when in fact we should be taking this on a case-by-case basis.

Case in point long-haul trucking. There is a great example in this whitepaper about how a long-haul truck may drive through multiple markets in a given day, meaning it is operating on dozens of switches, and more often than not, on multiple networks. This truck needs to be sending and receiving data in multiple areas. The whitepaper makes the case that a long-haul trucking company cannot use 4G service today because it is not available in many of the markets or highways in which their trucks are operating.

So the long-haul truck cannot use 4G … it’s not life or death. It could mean profits, and to some companies that is considered a life-or-death scenario, but nevertheless it is not vital. Healthcare data, on the other hand, literally fits the description of life or death.

Some argue the 2G is sufficient today. I agree. But sufficient really doesn’t cut it when we are trying to do great things with technology. Imagine what we can do with connected healthcare when 4G is “sufficient” enough to be ubiquitous.

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