Deployment of private 5G networks in the healthcare sector has gained pace and is expecting to reap significant benefits like other industries that have already experienced 5G’s top-notch capabilities. Mobile network operators are playing a pivotal role in building private 5G network for healthcare companies using 5G network testing equipment and tools & 5G speed tests tools; RF drive test tools and delivering excellent network quality to users. There are multiple medical use cases aimed to transform the healthcare ecosystem and enhance care quality by the power of 5G and cutting-edge technologies.
1. Remote patient monitoring – Access to real-time patient data
Remote patient monitoring is key to deliver healthcare services and manage chronic diseases efficiently. Patient data is effectively collected from IoT-enabled sensors in e-health devices and wearables without the need to travel far distances for face-to-face appointments with a doctor. 5G allows to transmit delivery records and share with specialists in real-time to get instant advice. The 5G wireless network provides a reliable and scalable infrastructure for IoT sensors of different bandwidths to send data to the cloud in a secured manner.
2. Telemedicine – High-Definition (HD) video consultations
HD-video is used to consult a doctor for routine check-ups – not requiring any physical examination, therapy sessions, and visual diagnosis (for example, skin infections). Thus, telemedicine is reducing patient visits to the hospital and the burden to travel far distances which may sometimes incur huge travelling costs. As per a study conducted by Market Research Future, the telemedicine market is predicted to grow at a CAGR of 16.5% from 2017 to 2023. With 5G, healthcare companies can enable HD video consultations, scalable to a large geographical area. High bandwidth in 5G will allow users to connect more and more devices and permit data transmission to and fro with enhanced reliability and security.
3. Telesurgery – Experts collaborate to perform remote surgery through robots
One of the critical use cases of 5G in the healthcare domain is ‘telesurgery’ in which a doctor is enabled to perform surgery from a remote location. Strictly dependent on 5G capabilities, it is believed to be overhyped and unrealistic as doctors perform robot-assisted surgery on the patient. Another example would be using a 5G-enabled AR/VR headset that is somehow realistic and allows a remotely located doctor to watch in on a surgery occurring in real-time guiding the on-spot surgeon and provide comments on what he/she sees depending on his/her experiences. This requires low latency across a wide area to facilitate video streaming and real-time communications between the surgeons as drop-in network Quality of Service (QoS) could lead to fatality or loss of life. Private 5G can provide highly reliable and excellent secured connectivity thereby playing an integral role in improving the quality of care.
4. Connected Ambulance – Extending hospital emergency room capabilities
5G capabilities are not only limited to indoor locations of the hospital but also extended to outdoor locations. Connected ambulance provides an innovative way to connect remote medical specialists, patients, and ambulance staff, even if the ambulance is not within the campus. For instance, BT’s live 5G network in Birmingham enabled healthcare staff to perform the pilot remote diagnostic procedure over 5G wireless in the UK. It showcased the use of 5G technology to allow collaboration between paramedics and clinicians with special haptic gloves. Such revolutionary 5G use case has the potential to transform the way emergency healthcare will be delivered to patients in the future, enabling crucial efficiencies and decreasing the need for some sick persons to visit health clinics/hospitals at quick intervals.
5. Predictive health analytics – 5G, AI, and Big Data ready to revolutionise the healthcare ecosystem
With the digitisation of the healthcare sector, a massive amount of data is being produced by an increasing number of connected medical devices at the edge, comprising monitors and patient wearables. Accumulating data from these sources, care professionals can efficiently process data inbuilt with AI and big data platforms running on the 5G network. New-age predictive analytics solutions are being used for medical diagnosis, predictive modelling for extracting insights on patient health risk, and prescriptive analytics for precision medicine. Clinicians can stay up to date with recent patient data and be one step ahead in providing proactive care to them before the deterioration of their health.
Digital health is becoming the norm. Expansion of 5G in the healthcare sector with the deployment of private 5G is expected to generate compelling use cases in the near future. Private 5G network clubbed with other next-gen technologies like IoT, Big Data, Artificial Intelligence, AR/VR will open multiple opportunities for operators and other vendors in the market. It is high time to explore the opportunities and emphasise developing top-grade connected healthcare applications/services to serve patients and provide them better well-being.