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How 5G Will Transform Healthcare?

Health equality exists only when every individual can access healthcare services. People living in remote areas often lose out on this, getting tied down by costly travel, long waiting times or delayed treatment.

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Health data is kept locally on work computers becomes insecure and prone to theft. (File)

By Chandan Agarwal

The advent of 5G wireless network technology has the potential to transform healthcare with its ability to provide high quality video on every connected device. From telemedicine, remote surgery and emergency response care to faster transmission of medical reports— every critical component of the existing healthcare ecosystem may change forever.   

Why 5G Matters in Healthcare?

In tele-medicine, the quality of video and speed of data transfer are critical parameters for ensuring quality healthcare service. Both of these are almost entirely dependent on the underlying network speed. Current 4G wireless networks are riddled with lags, which create problems in key remote medical tasks such as remote surgery or even a simple remote video doctor consultation. Handling and transferring a massive amount of patients’ data, such as images and medical reports can be overwhelming with 3G/4G network. This is precisely why 5G connectivity will make a big difference. With high speed and bandwidth, 5G can not only support high quality video interactions, but also near-instantaneous data transfer of records such as prescriptions, diagnostics test reports, medical imaging and other medical reports. The entire concept of tele-medicine will undergo a sea change from the experience perspective of both the medical professional and the patient.

5G in Healthcare: The Era of Limitless Possibilities 

The expectations from 5G spring from its superior technical attributes compared to 4G. It averages a 2-millisecond latency (or delay) in data transfer in contrast to 4G’s 20-millisecond latency. This differential will make the difference between the experience of virtual healthcare today and post 5G.

Here is how 5G will revolutionize the healthcare industry: 
 
Remote Surgery:  Until now, conducting remote surgery with existing wireless networks has been impossible because of the lag between input and output due to low speeds. This delay can be dangerous for patients. 5G promises to change all that with its ultra-low latency. The time between a remote surgeon giving an input and the action at the surgical table will be near instantaneous.

Faster Transmission of Reports/Files: Medical imaging files and pathological test results are often large in size and difficult to send and receive quickly. It will be possible to transfer these voluminous files almost in real-time with the 5G speed.

Patient Monitoring: Using wearable devices and sensors connected to 5G networks can help patients living in remote areas be at ease as their vitals can be monitored in real time in large, specialised healthcare facilities. This can allow their conditions to be managed properly and more efficiently.  

Emergency Response Care: 5G-enabled emergency response system allows patients to receive expert treatment while they are rushed to the hospital through remotely connected trauma specialists working virtually with on the scene medical professionals. This can help save many precious lives.

Elderly medical care:  With a growing elderly population, the number of people with chronic illnesses is rising, thus creating more pressure on the healthcare system. 5G can help them get medical consultation when they need it the most, without the stress of difficult commutes to healthcare facilities.

Facilitating Healthcare Equality:  Health equality exists only when every individual can access healthcare services. People living in remote areas often lose out on this, getting tied down by costly travel, long waiting times or delayed treatment. With the 5G networks, the situation can change dramatically. Remote healthcare can reduce the patients burden and also work towards eliminating lag and queues, ensuring higher output of medical professionals.

Final Thoughts

Combining 5G with other emerging technologies such as AI and IoT can help spark the rise of a new healthcare ecosystem. American philosopher John Dewey once famously said – “Every great advance in science has issued from a new audacity of imagination.” From speed and scale to equity, 5G connectivity is the proverbial medicine that the future of healthcare needs. 

(The author is Chief Operating Officer, EnableX.io. Views expressed are personal and do not reflect the official position or policy of FinancialExpress.com.)

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