In February, VA’s Palo Alto Health Care System became the first 5G-enabled hospital in VA, and among the first in the world.

Health Care System director and Army Veteran Thomas J. Fitzgerald III said, “With VA Palo Alto Health Care System being the first VA hospital and also one of the first hospitals in America to have 5G, we feel we are right for this. This is the right time and it’s at the right place because we are in Silicon Valley. We are ensuring VA stays relevant with cutting-edge technology for the health and well-being of our Veterans.”

“This is perhaps the most exciting and dramatic time in medical history.”

Dr. Thomas Osborne is leading the project and describes what this means for Veterans and their care. Osborne is the director of the VA National Center for Collaborative Healthcare Innovation, which is located in the VA Palo Alto Healthcare System. He described what this means for Veterans and their care.

“This is perhaps the most exciting and dramatic time in medical history. We are faced with a titanic confluence of growing health care challenges. At the same time, we are developing amazing technology that can dramatically advance care. Many of these advancements are creating a wealth of valuable data, which is an untapped resource because the traditional infrastructure is not equipped to move and analyze that valuable information efficiently.

“The next generation of digital networks provides the backbone that will help us unlock the potential to dramatically advance health care.”

From a dirt road to a superhighway

5G is the fifth generation of wireless cellular communication and offers an extraordinary infrastructure for medical advancements. Importantly, 5G allows us to move large complex data files much faster than ever before. The improved capability is like leaving a slow dirt road and getting onto an efficient superhighway.

The team celebrates shortly after establishing the first 5G signal. The device documented the 5G signal Feb. 4, 2020. From left are: Dr. Thomas Osborne, Cathy Lester, David Arreola, Arvind Maral, John Macias and Jeremy Brunton.

This opens the door to opportunities that we could only imagine before. With the addition of augmented reality tools, we have been able to turn large CT and MRI images into three-dimensional models that you can virtually hold, turn and evaluate in ways that is reminiscent of a futuristic science fiction movie.

This capability can promote unparalleled understanding of complex anatomy and disease for clinicians, students and patients.

Project an MRI image onto a patient’s body

With this technology, presurgical planning can be more intuitive and realistic. What is absolutely amazing is that this technology can project a patient’s own X-ray, CT or MRI onto their body. A clinician using the system can actually see where a problem is before making an opening in the skin. As a result, there is a potential for more efficient surgeries with less complications and smaller incisions.

This infrastructure provides many other opportunities, such as improved diagnosis, autonomous vehicles and democratizing care to underserved areas. We know that faster, more accurate diagnosis leads to better outcomes; therefore, it is exciting that 5G gives us the ability to transmit large data files to cutting-edge computers that can provide advanced personalized diagnosis on demand.

Autonomous vehicles using this infrastructure can help transport disabled patients and visitors around the hospital more efficiently. We can also provide care to underserved and remote areas more effectively when large amounts of communication and diagnostic information can move large distances at near real-time.

Advances have far reaching impact for Veterans

The transition to 5G for a health care system is uncharted territory. It has been empowered by forward thinking leaders, such as Dr. Ryan Vega, executive director for VHA Innovation Ecosystem. A core principal for our success is to leverage exceptional and diverse expertise in a collaborative, methodical and multi-phased approach.

We have established initial 5G capabilities for certain portions of VA Palo Alto Health Care System, but continue to be in discovery mode as to how to best apply and scale this technology more broadly across the health care system.

Veteran-centric innovation is at the core of our VA mission. We recognize that we have both an opportunity and responsibility to lead the discovery and testing of solutions to improve the health care of our Veterans.

Groundbreaking collaborative partnerships like this, with leading technology companies and other innovators, are an important part of our future success.

As the largest integrated health care system in the United States, these advances have the potential to have a far reaching positive impact that extends far beyond our borders.

VA partnered with Verizon, Medivis and Microsoft to deliver the 5G-enabled clinical care system at the VA Palo Alto Healthcare System.

Dr. Thomas Osborne is director of the VA National Center for Collaborative Healthcare Innovation at the VA Palo Alto Healthcare System.

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Published on Mar. 17, 2020

Estimated reading time is 4.2 min.

Views to date: 447


  1. Paul Allen April 8, 2020 at 7:21 am

    I have to say I been out 30 plus yrs just now getting health care through the VA they might be behind in some areas and might be ahead in others but it is people like me that helps the VA that are behind to learn what they need and catch up with the now. I don’t no nothing about the 5G but with all the cancer I have now and I’m not talking 2 or 3 or even 5 types I’m talking about 13 types and I am heart failure too but I would be happy for them to use me on the 5 G and hopefully it would one day help and save our kids and grandkids . prayers and wish all ya vets the best.

  2. Cecil Hamilton March 19, 2020 at 6:49 pm

    Wow and to think it was just 10 short years ago you couldn’t even find your AA&T phone records, despite multiple OIG subpoena requests for them! You’ve come a long way baby -5G. One of the highest paid and most corrupt VA’s in America and yes, you still have blood on your hands, Remember 2010!

  3. Jack Divers March 19, 2020 at 9:36 am

    While I applaud VA Palo Alto with their 5G installation site-wide, to say that this is the “Most exciting and dramatic time in medical history” is a little overboard. Along with many other VA and IBM/Digital Equipment Corp. employees, we were able to bring the VA into the digital age back in the late 60’s and early 70’s. Moving from paper records to automated online electronic data was, I suspect, much more “exciting and dramatic”. Some docs refused to give up their paper records, but hospital directors threatened to withhold salaries, then they complied. Every VA hospital had to learn new more efficient ways to handle patients and their data and 172 VA Hospitals came online. Thousands of VA employees, both medical and technical, came together to create and design a system for the VA by the VA that has lasted decades. So here’s a “shout-out” to all VA employees, past and present, who have given of themselves with long hours of work, travel, and love to give the American veteran and his family the finest health care system in the world.

  4. Timothy Adair March 19, 2020 at 9:13 am

    All you great American veterans need too let go your past experiences with the VA and focas on now

  5. Timothy Adair March 19, 2020 at 9:09 am

    I’ve been sick since Tuesday and can’t get an answer on anything

  6. Chris LeMay March 18, 2020 at 10:38 pm

    Hi Ray, I am Vet, 08-09 on Iraq, and I’m very concerned about 5G. I developed a
    form of epilepsy 3.5 years ago which is rare for someone my age, 52. Verizon is laying down 5G lines just outside my neighborhood.. I want to raise awareness in my area. Any info would be much appreciated.

  7. Yulanda March 18, 2020 at 12:17 am

    5 isn’t safe for the human body! Veterans are still being used as Guinea pigs.

    • FRANCIS W. GEYER March 18, 2020 at 10:02 am

      On what Empirical Evidence is your comment supported?
      5G is certainly safer than bombarding the body with cancer causing X Rays that trying to find CANCEROUS TYMOURS.

    • Tracy Lee March 18, 2020 at 10:12 am

      we must remember 5g is from china. it has had zero tests on humans. so is it right to test this BS out on veterans! NO

  8. Benny Davis Jr March 17, 2020 at 3:31 pm

    I agree with Mr Brown.
    Ive been an on/off and in an/ out patient of the VA for some 50 years and have been treated without any serious complaints.

    The public ought to know about the True status of this wonderful institution.

    Thousands of we Veteran’s prayers are: to do bloodless surgeries. Thousands of Doctors are doing just that. They rather perform their operations without blood transfusions.

    In 2008, i had surgery to replace my aortic heart valve AND repaired an aneurysm in my upper part of the aorta, without blood transfusion.

    San Antonio Tx has a bloodless hosp.

    So, give consideration to these requests, this can be done, there are blood substitutes that works.

    Again, thanks for all your work and care for us.

    Benny Davis

    • Tracy Lee March 18, 2020 at 10:20 am

      I’m not sure what you are calling a wonderful institution. and by the way I had 15hr back surgery in 1992 and had no blood from anyone but my own, so that tech is nothing new. The VA is light years behind, wake up sir. oh and I also live in FL where we actually do have top notch VA care and it’s still not up to private care standards. oh and wtf does VA hospital bathrooms always smell like sour piss? that cannot be healthy.

  9. Roy Blackburn March 17, 2020 at 2:28 pm

    How many safety tests have been done on the current 5G configuration? Paid for by the industry? 0 Yes, zero. Why would you want millimeter waves around healthy individuals? Especially how could you want this waves around sick old men and women?

    Do some research. This should not be celebrated, it should be tested. Contact me if you need some research material.

    • Marilyn Stone March 17, 2020 at 5:21 pm

      I agree

    • Tracy Lee March 18, 2020 at 10:08 am

      totally agree it’s time for the VA to stop testing on veterans!

  10. Sidney Brown March 17, 2020 at 1:18 pm

    Very timely. Hope to see many VA hospital get the same

    Now get the main stream media to stop knocking VA service and capability and tell the ill informed what is true in the VA. In my usage it has been very good and personal are doing a great job in turning VA around in last few years.

    This is a article that needs wide public distribution


    • Tracy Lee March 18, 2020 at 10:10 am

      you are wrong! this is insane for ppl to think this is OK for this shit to be tested on veterans once again. we have no choice never.

Comments are closed.

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