telehealth

AT&T’s FirstNet first responders’ network is supporting a digital health solution that provides remote patient monitoring (RPM) to those with high blood pressure.

The application is being provided by Qure4u, which is part of MyCarePlan. The press release describes it as a “patient engagement and virtual care platform” that includes a Bluetooth-enabled blood pressure cuff, the Samsung Galaxy Tab A7 Lite and enhanced security. The Samsung tablet transmits hypertension patients’ vital signs to healthcare providers to which it connects on FirstNet. Peripherals will be added on an ongoing basis.

AT&T says that the platform can reduce heart disease and stroke by improving oversight of patients, providing ready access to patient data and enabling actions in near real time. It can help with staffing issues, improve management of chronic conditions and help with reimbursement, according to the carrier.

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The Qure4u app in particular and RPM, in general, is a win/win made possible by modern telecommunications. It’s a win for patients who are continually monitored – not just measured when they visit the doctor. It reduces trips to medical facilities, a special hardship for rural people. The facilities gain efficiencies, the ability to improve patient outcomes and a reduction in admissions.

Qure4u has joined FirstNet as an extended primary user. These are organizations that may be called upon to support public safety during emergency response activities.

“More doctors are embracing remote patient monitoring because they’re realizing the many benefits,” Joe Drygas, the vice president of AT&T Healthcare Industry Solutions, said in a press release about the FirstNet patient monitoring news. “For patients, it’s about peace of mind and daily assurance and better quality of care. For doctors, it’s the ease of access to patient data, the ability to act in near real-time, better efficiencies, and reimbursement.”

Although FirstNet is designed for use by public safety, AT&T is allowed to use capacity on the FirstNet network for its own commercial traffic when it is not needed by public safety. Public safety has priority and preemption capabilities on the network, which raises the question of what happens to the traffic from the monitored patients in the event of an emergency that causes public safety to take over the network.

Perhaps the traffic falls back onto AT&T’s commercial network. It wasn’t really clear from the answer that a company spokesperson provided in response to an inquiry from Telecompetitor asking about that.

“First responders maintain voice communications with priority and preemption on LTE, while the FirstNet network determines the best route for all data traffic – whether it’s 5G or LTE,” the spokesperson said in an email to Telecompetitor. “Emergencies are complicated. Depending on the situation, public safety agencies and activities like patient monitoring may rely on a broad ecosystem of partners behind the scenes to help coordinate their complex response to keep the public safe.”

In October, AT&T said that FirstNet is serving more than 18,500 public safety agencies and organizations. Those groups represent more than 2.8 million connections.

Updated with a response from AT&T to a question from Telecompetitor.

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