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Leveraging 5G for Critical Healthcare

Avinash P • December 22, 2021
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The pandemic has exposed many challenges in the healthcare systems, such as the lack of a sufficient number of medical professionals, a shortage of intensive care beds, the lack of real-time tracking of patients, and other operational inefficiencies. Additionally, the growing usage of IoMT devices further adds up more data on the Hospital networks, critically impairing the network performance, resulting in unnecessary lags, and the lack of intelligent and up-to-date treatment trends. All these issues severely impact the patient experience and further add up costs in providing quality treatment.

Why 5g is Important in the Healthcare Domain

To address all these challenges there is a need for a 5G network that offers extraordinary data capabilities, dynamic low latency, and infinite data broadcast. 5G uses Ultra-Wide Band (UWB) networks with higher band breadth at low energy levels that precisely makes it a boon for the healthcare industry. Networks can provide an extremely large number of connections, massive machine communication, and extreme mobile broadband making it possible for use cases to create a patient-centric healthcare experience.

Many areas of healthcare could benefit from 5G’s features, including telehealth, remote surgery, transferring huge medical files, tracking patient movements within facilities, monitoring real-time data, and providing patients with regular treatment advice and updates.

5 G-powered healthcare applications have the potential to revolutionize and improve several critical aspects of healthcare. 5G in the healthcare market is evaluated at an estimated USD 215 million in 2021 and is projected to reach USD 3,667 million by 2026, at a CAGR of 76.3% during the forecast period. This technology has the potential to create a new health ecosystem that can accurately, efficiently, conveniently, cost-effectively, and on a wide scale meet the needs of patients and providers. However, Network security and data privacy, on the other hand, are important to realizing the full potential of 5G networks in healthcare.

Key themes emerging out of 5G in critical healthcare

1. 5G Ambulance

Ultrasound imaging can be done by a paramedic/first responder with the real-time guidance of the physician sitting at the hospital via the VR headset guiding a 5G connected Haptic glove worn by the paramedic so that the Trauma care has first-hand details well before the patient arrives at the hospital. Aggregating the patient’s medical history data with the real-time data collected from the ambulance to gain a deeper insight into his medical condition well before he reaches the hospital.

2. Robotic Surgeries

5G technologies with high bandwidth, fast data transfer, and low latency enable physicians to do minimally invasive robotic heart surgery using a mix of remote-controlled robotic arms and small cameras for problems like mitral, tricuspid, or aortic valve replacement.

3. ICU without walls (IOMT driven virtual ICU’s)

With the breakthroughs in IOMT devices that can collect all patient’s vital signs, hospitals are increasingly finding it easier to get admitted patients closer to their homes in order to provide them with physiological comfort in close vicinity to one‘s families and treat them with the same effectiveness as a real ICU.

Challenges in Critical Healthcare and how 5G can Address Them

The lack of low latency real-time high-resolution data:

With 5G technology’s reduced latency and increased data capacity, Vital patient monitoring data could be transferred almost in real-time, allowing specialists to diagnose patients more quickly. Quicker high-resolution data exchange will result in enhancements such as professional opinions or expert consultations, which will increase the quality of care. Also, Medical device makers like Stryker can utilize 5G to track the performance of their equipment on a real-time basis, allowing them to provide preventive and predictive maintenance and minimize the negative implications of defective devices. The data can also be used by medical device manufacturers to enhance the design and performance of medical devices.

Limited critical care capacity & lack of trained personnel:

The pandemic has made us realize the burden on the healthcare sector both in terms of the number of ICUs and trained intensive care staff. This makes critical care very expensive and limited. But when quality critical care can’t penetrate beyond major cities in an effective way, 5G comes to the rescue. Now, it is possible to extend medical expertise beyond a confined space and ensure high-quality care for all.

The lack of an efficient decision support system:

AI-enabled decision support tools combined with 5G provide healthcare workers with the most up-to-date information, such as regularly updated, evidence-based protocols, electronic health records, and data from patient monitoring systems. If the necessary network is established, solutions available as SaaS can provide decision assistance to care setting anywhere in the globe. According to a McKinsey report, by expediting diagnostics, minimizing errors, and problems, identifying the most effective treatment protocols, and providing more individualized treatment plans, they might add up to $40 billion to $70 billion in efficiencies.

Operational issues:

5G enables IoT-based “smart cabinets” to manage inventory of medical devices and supplies, Healthcare players can envision a 5G command center in the future to improve patient flow and ensure that beds and medical equipment are ready when needed. All the operational issues can be solved by prioritizing and automating as many manual tasks as possible, optimizing patient flow, and freeing up staff to concentrate more on patient care.

Challenges and Mitigation:

5G comes with issues like complex frequency bands, limited coverage, and higher costs. Governments and network operators around the world forward initiatives such as RAN & Spectrum band sharing along with small scale 5G deployments like L5GO (Local 5g operator) in hospitals and other healthcare facilities encouraging the large-scale use of IoMT devices resulting in reduced overall costs of deploying and commissioning 5G systems. Hospitals and healthcare facilities around the world are not backing out from leveraging the existing 5G infrastructure to experiment and innovate continuously to come up with unique healthcare use cases to transform themselves into smart hospitals and 5G centers of excellence.

Brillio’s capability in 5g Healthcare

  • Brillio’s healthcare platform enables seamless connections with external applications like billing, payers, claims process, workflows, payments and can support futuristic use cases like connecting to a seamless ambulance on top of the 5G infrastructure, support IOMT devices including critical IoT enabled surgical devices and other innovative 5G healthcare use cases.
  • The highly decoupled and scalable nature of Brillio’s Healthcare platform makes it a holistic fit for the 5G healthcare centers of the future.

Conclusion 5G has the potential to significantly bring down costs, improve the quality of the treatments, and provide a better patient experience. Faster and low latency patient data will make the treatment more personalized and enhance the care even from long distances. The technology ensures better hospital operations, and we’re getting closer to the point when remote surgeries will be performed more frequently by surgeons using 5G technologies. Therefore, Healthcare providers should gear up their infrastructure for accommodating this disruptive technology to stay relevant for their patients in the coming future.

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