Health Informatics Student Develops 5G-Enabled Telemedicine Technology


Patricia Tran integrates innovation and clinical experience as summer intern with Commonwealth Cyber Initiative

Tran's research as a CCI intern allowed her to create 5G-enabled wearable technology to detect Atrial fibrillation and support clinical decision making. 

Patricia Tran, an alumna of Mason's Honors College, recognized the essential roles cybersecurity and health informatics have in health care while working as a nurse. Tran’s first-hand experience with electronic health record (EHR) systems sparked her interest in how new technology could enhance health care organizations’ telemedicine services. She is now pursuing a Master of Science in Health Informatics at Mason, where she integrates her passion for health care and technology to defeat digital threats that compromise the access and quality of care patients receive. 

 “In a field where every second matters, high latency and poor connectivity can have detrimental effects,” says Tran, who is interested in the way 5G-enabled technology can improve the telemedicine infrastructure. “5G has the potential to address these challenges and transform telemedicine.”

Tran pursued her interest in 5G during the summer of 2021 as one of the first summer interns at Commonwealth Cyber Initiative (CCI). CCI is a Virginia organization with a mission to establish the state as a global leader in cybersecurity while supporting world-class research and preparing future generations for careers in cybersecurity. 

“Throughout the summer, we developed a proof-of-concept design for 5G-enabled telemedicine,  incorporating RaspberryPi, Apple Watch health data, cloud computing, and OpenEMR to detect Atrial fibrillation and support clinical decision making in real-time,” says Tran.  

Developers could also expand Tran’s research on wearable device technology to detect other ailments--a result of her passion for creating innovative, amendable solutions to enhance the quality-of-care patients receive. 

Tran and her research team discovered that the current telemedicine infrastructure is not fully-equipped to handle the nuances of Internet of Things (IoT) technology, which are devices that connect to cloud services to access information. She believes that her 5G-enabled technology research can help overcome these obstacles by providing stronger connectivity, enhanced security, and faster speeds to telemedicine technology. 

“In health care, 5G is still a relatively new technology and could have tremendous impacts on telemedicine and care delivery, so our research addresses these opportunities for advancement as well as challenges that may arise,” says Tran. 

Tran’s clinical background as a nurse, coursework knowledge from her program, and strong work ethic helped her succeed throughout the internship. The many skills she gained throughout the health informatics program, such as database management, data analysis, and programming, allowed her to successfully work with real-world applications in health care.

The CCI internship inspired Tran to encourage other students to pursue research initiatives that interest them. “Research in general can be overwhelming at times, but with the right attitude, you might be surprised at how much you can learn and discover,” says Tran. 

Tran aims to work with a leading EHR system as a developer or analyst after graduating with her master’s degree in health informatics to continue discovering innovative ways to address health care technological problems.