Providing health care services for 9 million Veterans is complex. To meet its mission to honor America’s Veterans by providing exceptional health care that improves their health and well-being, Veterans Health Administration (VHA), the largest health care system in the United States, strives to be at the forefront of innovation. VHA Innovation Ecosystem (VHA IE) and U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) Office of Information and Technology (OIT) deployed advanced, 5G-enabled clinical care systems at the VA Palo Alto Health Care System (PAHCS) under Dr. Tom Osborne’s leadership on February 4, 2020, with a goal to deliver unprecedented improvements in care to our Nation’s Veterans, as well as being a leader in the Fourth Industrial Revolution in health care powered by 5G. 5G is the fifth generation of wireless cellular communication and offers an extraordinary infrastructure for medical advancements. Importantly, 5G allows the movement of large complex data files much faster than ever before. This capability can promote unparalleled understanding of complex anatomy and disease for clinicians, students, and patients.


Dr. Osborne, who serves as both the Chief Medical Informatics Officer at VA PAHCS and director of the VA National Center for Collaborative Healthcare Innovation (NCCHI) led this project, resulting in first 5G-enabled hospital in VA, and among the first in the world. Dr. Osborne also spearheaded a multi-pronged partnership with Verizon, Medivis, and Microsoft to deliver this 5G-enabled clinical care system at VA PAHCS. Known as Project CONVERGENCE, the initiative brings Verizon’s 5G technology, Medivis’ 3D holographic clinical visualization system, and Microsoft’s HoloLens 2 headset with Microsoft Azure together in an effort to reduce costs and improve the quality and safety of surgical care for Veterans. Project CONVERGENCE will develop a strategy and roadmap for testing advanced technologies enabled by 5G networking to advance health care and provide Veterans with the one of the first 5G medical campuses in the United States. The partnership brings a wide range of cutting-edge technologies to the health care industry—notably, advanced computer-spatial imaging and augmented reality—that will lead to the enhancement of tools for advanced medical education,


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Director, VA National Center for Collaborative Healthcare Innovative (NCCHI),
Department of Veterans Affairs

procedural training, presurgical planning, and patient literacy. Imagine a more precise assessment of a patient’s condition, improved quality and safety of surgical interventions, and accelerated, remote-access review through detail-rich, 3D-rendered images. 5G-powered technology could help make mixed-reality-enabled surgery a reality. The surgical community largely relies on two-dimensional imaging technology to understand patient anatomy and pathology. Using these two technologies in combination, VA clinicians will now be able to translate 2D images in 3D holographic representations in augmented reality via the Verizon 5G network. Further, VA physicians will now be able to better plan and prepare for surgery by being able to view and orient themselves to the patient’s internal anatomy. By delivering the first-ever 5G-enabled augmented reality surgical navigation system, VA is now equipped to deliver the most advanced surgical care available. This trailblazing technology will allow VA health care providers to view patients’ anatomy in pre-surgical preparation and intervention.


Project CONVERGENCE’s trailblazing technology will allow VA health care providers to view patients’ anatomy in pre-surgical preparation and intervention to deliver the most advanced surgical care available. VHA’s work continues, building upon this platform to deliver ever more sophisticated clinical care solutions that will transform the entire health care delivery experience for Veterans and the Nation.


In his own words, Dr. Osborne describes what moving to 5G means for Veteran 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.” Through this initiative, VHA is focused on delivering better quality care to all Veterans, when and where they want it, more efficiently through the innovative application of the nation’s most advanced technology. Project CONVERGENCE is the fusion of technology, expertise, and innovation all coming together to enhance care delivery in ways that will change and save lives. 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.