5G to revolutionise the healthcare sector

May 17, 2022 | 17:00
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The rise of 5G represents a new generation of mobile technology that has the potential to accelerate the digital transformation of enterprises through a host of new services, technologies, and ecosystems. One of the industries with the biggest potential for transformation is the healthcare sector. The dedicated network slices with guaranteed throughput, ultra-high speeds, and almost zero latency promise to enable live, real-time health monitoring, telemedicine, and remote surgery, among other revolutionary services.
5G to revolutionise the healthcare sector
Denis Brunetti-President in Vietnam and Myanmar Ericsson

For instance, by partnering with the service provider and a healthcare provider in the Internet of Things, a hospital that provides 5G-connected devices to patients can get a dedicated network slice and edge storage, as well as the processing and AI capabilities, to analyse patients’ vital signs as quickly as possible.

As new devices and applications place ever-increasing data demands on existing infrastructures, healthcare organisations are looking to edge architecture to bring computing power to the hospital while centralising data. In hospitals across the world, data exists in silos.

Patients can go undiagnosed with different diseases because the results of an MRI scan or echocardiogram are difficult to share. To transform healthcare, we need robust connectivity. The building blocks for this digital infrastructure are high-performance connectivity and cloud software that enables easy sharing of data between experts.

In order to explore the benefits of a private 5G network for hospitals, Ericsson recently partnered with BevelCloud, an edge-cloud service which provides secure and scalable storage, data, network, and application services. The companies joined together to trial a private edge network for Lucile Packard Children’s Hospital in California.

Ericsson and BevelCloud tested a private edge network for the hospital to enable faster and more reliable data transfer for enhanced patient care. At Lucile Packard, private cellular radio equipment positioned outside the hospital allowed 5G coverage from the outside-in, ensuring fast and reliable data delivery no matter where a doctor or technician may be at the hospital.

Ericsson conducted a proof of concept test using a platform that allowed for testing of optimal locations for the radio equipment before mounting it on existing light poles. The poles can be fed fibre and power for future installations.

We took a big step in our collective vision to build a digital infrastructure that could transform children’s healthcare locally, nationally, and globally. It’s clear that from a small number of locations around the perimeter of the children’s hospital that complete coverage of patient rooms and hallways can be effectively provided with a private 5G broadband network, delivering multi-megabit performance.

This type of connectivity between hospital equipment and edge servers will serve as an effective infrastructure for applications which range from simple collaboration to advanced AI. For hospitals that do not have adequate Wi-Fi, an overlay private 5G solution could prove to be a viable alternative.

Another example comes from the United Kingdom. Here, a 5G-connected ambulance provides an innovative way to connect patients, workers, and remote medical experts in real-time thanks to a collaboration between Ericsson, the University Hospital Birmingham NHS Foundation Trust, and King’s College London.

Through a live 5G network in Birmingham and managed by BT, healthcare workers have performed the country’s first remote diagnostic procedure over 5G. The demonstration showcases how 5G tech can enable clinicians and paramedics to collaborate haptically, even when they are miles apart.

The diagnosis was made possible by 5G’s ultra-fast speed and ultra-low latency. This made it possible for there to be a delay of mere milliseconds between what was happening in the ambulance and what the clinician could see from miles away, as the data was transmitted in real-time.

This revolutionary use of 5G has the potential to transform how future healthcare is delivered, enabling crucial efficiencies and reducing the need for some patients even to visit hospitals.

Real-time connectivity could potentially be critical to healthcare capabilities, helping first responders to act quickly in an emergency and opening up new possibilities for remote diagnosis and preventative healthcare.

Technology and 5G connectivity, when paired with human expertise, have the power to improve public services, relieve resource restraints, and even save lives. Use cases like remote treatment in emergencies, precision medicine, rehabilitation robotics and many more will also evolve over time.

By Denis Brunetti

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