USC's Ellison Institute partnering with AT&T to roll out 5G network to advance research

The private 5G network on-site at the Lawrence J. Ellison Institute for Transformative Medicine of the University of Southern California will enable ultra-fast connectivity and integrate many different systems so doctors can make informed decisions faster, providing better patient care and improving outcomes. (Ellison Institute/Randy Shropshire)

The University of Southern California's (USC's) cancer institute is partnering with AT&T to deploy an on-site 5G network to power patient-centered cancer research, treatment and wellness education.

The private 5G network on-site at the Lawrence J. Ellison Institute for Transformative Medicine of USC will enable ultra-fast connectivity and integrate many different systems so doctors can make informed decisions faster, providing better patient care and improving outcomes, the organizations said in a press release.  

Part of the mission of the Ellison Institute is to use technology to create an immersive, first-of-its-kind experience for patients, visitors, clinicians and students. 5G connectivity is at the core of that goal, organization executives said.

The addition of AT&T Multi-access Edge computing (MEC) and ultra-fast 5G+ millimeter wave technology to the private 5G network will help the institute create new outcomes and capabilities at its “smart” facility. For example, the institute will be able to capture, store and analyze data at its point of origin rather than the data having to travel to a remote data center.

RELATED: VA to open "America's first" all 5G-enabled hospital in Palo Alto this week

3D tumor imaging powered by the higher 5G speeds and bandwidth gives doctors and researchers the ability to see more of a tumor without an invasive procedure to the patient. Doctors can also adjust a patient’s treatment based on real-time information collected during an appointment, according to the organization.

And reliable 5G wireless communications allow for wall-to-wall coverage inside the Ellison Institute with enough capacity for thousands of users, and tens of thousands of devices.

”Data is at the core of everything we do at the Ellison Institute, and our work with AT&T enables us to capture and employ that data in meaningful ways that benefits science and our patients,” said David Agus, M.D., CEO of the Ellison Institute for Transformative Medicine of USC, in a statement.

“This collaboration is developing programs to use 5G to collect data from patients, healthcare providers and scientists, as well as using the Internet of Things to effectively manage our clinic and labs. It’s an exciting step forward," Agus said.

In January 2020, the Ellison Institute teamed up with AT&T to open up a new "smart" facility that incorporates advanced wireless technologies, multi-access edge computing, artificial intelligence and other emerging technology solutions.

The use of 5G technology will enable the Ellison Institute to roll out new tools for patients, providers and researchers. For example, digital bracelets given to patients upon their arrival will map their journey through the 80,000-square-foot facility. The institute also aims to develop immersive and personalized experiences for patients, such as customizing the type of music and lighting to reflect the patient’s preference.

Wireless connected screens will enable researchers to make notes in one lab and pull up the notes in another part of the facility.

RELATED: Emory Healthcare, Verizon open first 5G-enabled innovation hub

With patients, researchers and staff all wearing connected sensors, the institute will be able to track how much patient interaction is taking place. Studying the research and care process can lead to better collaboration and outcomes, according to the organization.

“5G is going to be a game-changer for the healthcare industry,” said Anne Chow, CEO of AT&T Business, in a statement. “One lesson from this pandemic is there is a strong need to be able to treat and monitor patients remotely. 5G’s fast speeds and lower latency can help expand the use of telemedicine. And it can help deliver the near real-time data healthcare providers need to make quick decisions.”

In healthcare, 5G is expected to revolutionize telehealth with its quick speeds and ability to transport data. The Ellison Institute joins several other hospitals that have brought 5G technology online.

In February 2020, the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) announced the first all 5G-enabled hospital in the U.S. The VA's Palo Alto Health Care System, which is an affiliate of Stanford University School of Medicine, worked with Verizon to bring the facility online.

Also that month, Emory Healthcare in Atlanta and Verizon launched the nation's first 5G-enabled healthcare lab. The health system is collaborating with Verizon to develop and test 5G Ultra Wideband-enabled medical use cases at its Emory Healthcare Innovation Hub.