5G—The Fuel Healthcare Needs to Thrive

January 15, 2019


It’s more than a buzzword, the next “G” or a network technology upgrade.

5G—the latest generation of cellular mobile communications—is set to unlock a new era of healthcare with smart, connected solutions for medical providers, device manufacturers, payers, researchers, and patients.

Robot-assisted surgery, remote medical diagnosis, and treatment, as well as personalized care—believe it or not, they are on the horizon thanks to the evolution of mobile networks; so it is time for healthcare professionals to plan in advance and uncover ways to make every one of these opportunities count.

Read on to gain a better understanding of 5G’s potential and learn how to take advantage of this new wave of wireless technology early on in your practice.

5G’s Effect on the Healthcare Industry: It Is Not Just About the Speed

Delivering safer, higher-quality, and more cost-effective healthcare services is not a dream for the future much longer. Every day, the advances in network technology intend to make it a reality through unprecedented speed, agility, and data capacity. More specifically, 5G has various technological characteristics that will prove its significant impact on the healthcare field, including enhanced network reliability and the ability to support a plurality of devices and to translate information from these machines into critical data points.

In response, these capabilities encourage breakthrough innovations, such as:

  • Superior monitoring capability
  • Access to aggregated information based on the latest evidence, diagnosis, and treatment trends
  • Remote diagnosis and imaging that aims to facilitate the delivery of mission-critical interventions
  • Advanced surgical robots

If robo-surgeons sound rather far-fetched, worry not and meet the first doctor that performed robotic surgery across a 5G network. The Chinese surgeon remotely controlled a pair of robotic arms to remove the liver of a laboratory animal situated approximately 30 miles away from the operating center. As 5G provides an unrivaled connection speed, the delay between the surgeon’s control device and the robot—only 100 milliseconds—was enough to decrease the likelihood of any potential mistakes.

Why are these results the most promising ones since the birth of robot-assisted surgery?

Despite the indisputable success of the first transatlantic telesurgery demonstrated in September 2001 on a 68-year-old woman located in France by a surgeon based in New York, computer-aided surgery was not initiated at scale. High communication costs, long latency, and no reliability guaranteed by the public Internet used to stand in the way. Until 5G.

In addition to being touted as a huge leap into faster and highly reliable wireless communication, 5G is expected to be an enabler of ultra-low latency—in other words, shortening network communication delays to ensure that the lag between action and response is not too high. More often than not, doctors rely on the natural instinct they get from years of experience while performing surgery; but telesurgery is different. Instincts are not enough to complete a successful surgery—a network delay that lasts a fraction of a second could easily cost a patient’s life. Consequently, in these healthcare environments, lower latency is not just a nice to have; it is a must.

Beyond remote surgery, the ultra-low latency capabilities of 5G play an important role in the delivery of mission-critical interventions—right from the point where the patient’s monitoring device sends a distress signal to an ambulance, to the high-resolution images and data on vital signs that can be streamed to the hospital ahead of arrival.

Disrupting the Status Quo in Healthcare

In the long run, healthcare will thrive on 5G technology. But until then, the newest generation of mobile communications will bring various disruptive changes to the table.

Even so, if you are planning to jump on the 5G bandwagon as fast as possible, that is because you should. How can you start off on the right foot, though?

Flexibility, practicality, and cooperation sit at the forefront of a successful 5G implementation. Execution trumps strategy every time; but rushing into 5G technology without a comprehensive—and realistic—plan at the ready is not the most ideal approach. It is very improbable that 5G’s full capabilities will exist in the early deployments. So instead of setting your 5G strategy in stone, opt for a step-by-step approach. Plan early, but rely on a pashed plan that will successfully minimize disruption and enable every technology, process, and new business model to realize the promises of 5G.

Although silos might be inherent in today’s healthcare system, tearing down the walls between departments is necessary to embrace innovation. Therefore, your 5G strategy should be the result of a collaborative effort. A unified fort that supports a seamless, continuous communication flow will not only enable you to realize 5G’s healthcare-related ambitions but also reap all the benefits of this transition well into the future.

Make the Most of the 5G-Enabled Healthcare Revolution

The current healthcare system is not patient-centric, personalized, equitably accessible, or data-driven. But with 5G, you can turn healthcare into human care—and there are no compromises along the way.

Get ready for the future of 5G-enabled healthcare and upgrade patient experiences with confidence.