BL Healthcare, Sprint reach 3G agreement

Sprint this week announced an agreement to power remote health management company BL Healthcare's telemedicine products with its 3G network, news that comes on the heels of a BL-Verizon partnership in which the latter will run the former's telemedicine system on that carrier's 4GLTE system. 

Massachusetts-based BL may soon move to Sprint's 4G network, as well, however. Sprint execs already are piloting a 4G-powered kiosk at Lancaster (Pa.) General Health--a key BL Healthcare customer--and will give the industry an early look at the results at HIMSS11 next week. 

The deal certainly seems to cement Sprint execs' focus on mobile and telehealth. Officials there see "the biggest biggest opportunity for wireless-enabled home care products" in the chronic-care management field, where telemedicine has made its deepest inroads. 

Moving deeper into the rapidly growing healthcare market (and particularly the mushrooming mHealth segment) could be an important move for the company, which only recently managed to finally halt its months-long revenue slide in the last quarter of 2010. The carrier has been battling customer defections and bad service reviews for years, according to the Wall Street Journal.

BL has taken a platform, rather than a device-specific, approach to telehealth, offering the usual peripherals like BP cuffs, scales and pulse ox monitors, but also adding HD-enabled tele-conferencing, kiosks for retail and assisted living facilities, and remote hosting of the system. The system supports text messaging, vital sign transmission, auto alerts and reminders, and can be used for remote training and education, company officials say.

To learn more:
- read this TMCnet article
- check out the BL-Sprint press release
- here's the BL-Verizon announcement from January
- read this Wall Street Journal article