Five-G technology began rolling out circa 2019, a newer mobile communications technology. It’s enjoyed great hype and allure for consumers and enterprise businesses. The attraction is understandable, given the explosion of mobile communications in recent years. It also promises three appealing central features:
- Extremely high data speeds
- Low latency, translating to very minimal delay in data transmissions across networks
- High connectivity to multiple devices at the same time
5G Mobile Technology & The Healthcare Industry
Naturally, the advances in this mobile technology will be attractive to all. It will appeal to specific enterprise businesses and organizations benefiting from these increased capabilities. Multiple examples come to mind, such as first responder jobs like the police, fire department, and various governmental organizations.
Other prominent industries, like the healthcare industry, also naturally gravitate toward this technology because organizations like this are where the stakes around quick and reliable mobile communications are high. At Tellennium, many of our customers are within the healthcare industry and utilize our managed mobility services (MMS) to help manage their mobile communications effectively. We continue to see ever-expanding interest in 5G capabilities.
For healthcare telecom expense management (TEM) directors or managers seeking to improve their mobile communications throughout their healthcare organizations, this article will help highlight higher-impact areas of added value that this technology is beginning to unveil and will become ever more popular within the next two to three years as nationwide infrastructure capabilities continue to expand.
Let’s review some transformative areas we see in progress for this industry resulting from 5G mobile technology.
5 Areas of Transformation 5G Mobile Technology Brings to The Healthcare Industry
- The Internet of Things (IoT) will have increased capabilities and enhance wearable devices:
Changes in our modern world are accelerating quicker than ever due to transformative mobile technologies like 5G. We can now do so many things virtually that were not even thought of long ago. Think of virtual ZOOM meetings. They are now commonly used daily for business and doctor meetings with their patients.
Zoom meetings can be made without 5G technology. Still, the point is that continuing technological advances are opening many new possibilities. With all its strengths, 5G technology will highly accelerate additional medical field use cases as we move forward.
For example, think of the patient who can now use a wearable device to collect real-time data regarding their health condition. One example might be someone with hypertension, a common health ailment. Their heart rate can now be monitored continuously in the most reliable fashion.
Another typical example is diabetes. This common condition requires vigilant monitoring of glucose levels. Modern mobile device technology allows this to be monitored in real-time via a sensor placed under the skin.
What 5G does is allow for the transmission of critical health information in much more reliable and stable ways, which naturally matters a great deal for many health conditions, certainly those included here.
- Medical imaging capabilities will dramatically increase and improve diagnostics: Medical imaging capabilities continue to expand at a high rate, and this trend will continue for the foreseeable future. Think of CT scans or MRIs, two standard medical diagnostic tools. The 5G technology makes transmitting this data via mobile devices more practical, given the speed and reliability with which this data can be shared.
Moreover, the field of augmented reality (AR) is exploding as well. And many industries, such as healthcare, are at the forefront of trying to harness this capability to their advantage. Doctors are now using AR to assist with training and practicing their techniques before conducting actual procedures.
And AR is also being used for the actual surgeries themselves. Augmented reality-enabled tools are assisting in developing 3D holograms that surgeons use to facilitate greater visualization during surgery. These AR applications are helping to reduce surgical errors and increase overall satisfaction with surgical outcomes.
As noted, the real value-add from 5G here is its ability to make the real-time transmission of critical patient data extremely fast and reliable. Although 5G is not technically required for these applications, it is almost practically required because there is so much on the line; critical real-time patient data cannot be dropped due to poor connectivity caused by unreliable mobile communications, especially during something as critical as surgery.
- Smart hospitals’ real-time monitoring will improve and strengthen healthcare delivery: Smart hospitals are the latest example of digital transformation within the healthcare sector. In the early 2000s, electronic healthcare records (EHRs) gained popularity and use due to advances in technological capabilities. It was a logical step, given the technological advances at the time.
Fast forward to the mid-2010s, and the Internet of Things (IoT) emerged. This paved the way for wearable devices mentioned earlier, another big step forward. Hospitals and healthcare organizations also began exploring IoT technologies in various other essential ways, such as tracking medical equipment and optimizing the integration of various hospital systems to provide better patient care.
Nowadays, the term “smart hospital” denotes the most comprehensive approach to digital transformation. It embraces leveraging technology to the greatest extent possible in connecting and integrating medical systems and technologies to ensure the best real-time patient care.
5G allows these trends to accelerate and proliferate widely with fewer restrictions to specific physical locations. In what has quickly become a virtual world post-COVID, this capability is welcomed by all, especially those professionals within the healthcare sector.
- Robotic surgical procedures will expand with the improved reliability that 5G brings: The technological advances around robotics in recent years have been tremendous. It should be no surprise that the healthcare industry is reaping great rewards from embracing these changes.
We have already noted the critical virtues of 5G in terms of (1) high speed, (2) low latency/ high bandwidth, and (3) multiple-device connectivity. The reliability and interconnectedness that these attributes confer on medical teams performing high-stakes surgeries are of such value that it is beyond measure. Life can be on the line, so data transmission issues must be avoided at all costs, and 5G is the answer to this critical requirement.
Surgeons can now control robotic arms for some surgical procedures remotely (known as remote surgery or teleoperated). One example is prostate cancer surgery. A skilled physician who cannot reach the patient’s location can perform the surgery from his or her professional location of choice. (The tool commonly used here is the da Vinci Surgical System.)
This is now practical and a reality because of the speed and reliability of 5G, and it’s incredible.
- Remote patient monitoring will be strongly enhanced: We touched on this in bullet #1 above, relating to medical device wearables, but it’s worth stressing again. Not long ago, you might have needed an electric cord to enable a monitoring device, but we know the issue this causes is that you can’t move freely.
In this regard, mobile connectivity advances have taken the cord out of the equation. Furthermore, 5G has made quality and reliable patient monitoring doable and not onerous on the patient or healthcare practitioners. It’s a win-win situation, especially for those with chronic conditions that need vigilant oversight and management; they can now move around unencumbered via remote patient monitoring and still reap the benefits of high-quality monitoring and care.
Closing Thoughts on 5G Mobile Technology and The Healthcare Industry
The healthcare industry is one of the greatest examples of an industry that is embracing technology changes without being intimidated. As a result, they are a great example of the exponential benefits that can be achieved by being forward-leaning and embracing change.
We now also have the explosion of artificial intelligence within the world of technology, and its effects will reverberate well off into the horizon. Things always change. Change is now happening at rates we’ve never experienced, and this trend shows no signs of abating. Although there are always pros and cons to everything, it’s nice to acknowledge the pros, like the incredible changes that are taking place in healthcare.
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