Walmart, Verizon in discussions at health centers to deliver 5G

  • Published | 03 March 2020
The increased bandwidth would provide a major boost to smartphone healthcare consultations, enabling doctors to track the vitalities of a patient remotely and evaluate the statistics in real time.

With 5 G communications technology seen as a competitive advantage in the healthcare market, Walmart and telecommunications giant Verizon Networking are in talks to synchronize the new health clinics of the company with rooftop antennas compatible with 5G network.

In order to provide such facilities to its health clinics that Walmart hopes to bring to more locations across the country, the company would have to commit to building massive infrastructure – and customers will need their own 5G-compatible handsets, of course.

The company opened the second ever Walmart Health Center in Calhoun, Georgia in January, providing primary and urgent care, hospitals, X-ray and medical services, therapy, dental, visual and hearing services.

The first Walmart health center launched in Dallas, Georgia, in September 2019, providing primary care, health insurance awareness and registration all in one facility with separate entrance.

Telcos like Verizon claims that in order to prepare hospitals and healthcare systems for 5 G, they now need to intelligently rearrange their current network infrastructure to support applications and use cases that will exploit 5 G in the future.

The plan is to bring the software to a pair of Walmart stores later this year to test the retailer's new digital wellness policies to start offering to workers and shoppers. The system would also provide quicker wireless connections for the other stores and the surrounding community, according to people affiliated with the plans.

If the deal is signed, it would be the start of an initiative to turn Walmart's approximately 4,700 stores into medical treatment centers and other facilities beyond the retailer's previous focus on food and clothing.

Walmart can also use the 5 G technology to improve surveillance, which could help identify shoplifters as well as notify workers to decline inventories around large stores.

Late strategy by Verizon has introduced 5 G as a major factor. The company's leaders have been fond of talking about 5G's potential for fast speeds and less latency (the time it takes for different devices to react to each other). Verizon spoke of the benefits to hospitality and manufacturing leaders as the technology of the future, with ways to stimulate automation and increase computing power closer to industrial level.

Although 5G holds a great deal of promise for healthcare organizations to promote creative clinical cases and the use of innovations and to help deliver critical data where appropriate, healthcare organizations need to explore many areas as they develop their 5G roadmap to leverage the power of technology.

Healthcare looks like a great opportunity, "said Walmart CEO Doug McMillon during a February investor meeting, adding that the company could provide services to patients where traditional care facilities were out of reach.

In February, the Veterans Affairs began rolling out the capabilities of a 5G-enabled hospital in California with advanced cellular networking efficiency to enable telesurgery services to be provided to veterans, enabling doctors to communicate even across the country during surgery. Among the first to accept the potentially revolutionary nature of 5G are the Veterans Affairs. Rush University Medical Center announced its intentions to become the first US hospital with 5 G network services offered by AT&T back in January 2019.