5G Use Cases: Healthcare

April 23, 2018

Perhaps a less talked about, but undeniably crucial and exciting use case for 5G is its place within the healthcare industry.

There are a number of ways in which the technologies of a 5G network will benefit the healthcare sector, including general lifespan improvements for the general public and increasing accessibility for those who are currently unable to access basic services.

This article will explore some of the use-cases for 5G in the healthcare sector, including:

  • Vital tracking wearables
  • Secure remote consultations
  • Assisted and fully-robotic surgery
  • 2D/3D scanning

Wearables

It is now commonplace for most people to own mobile connected leisure wearables such as fitness trackers that actively capture, process and report real-time data that can then be accessed and assessed by the user. However, with the introduction of 5G, similar trackers will be able to make advantage of much faster connection speeds and ultimately transform the standard doctor/patient relationship around the world.

Clinical tracking devices and low-energy, low bit-rate sensors will allow doctors to remotely monitor and analyse patient’s vitals, activity and even potentially tell them whether the user has taken medication without the need to travel to a surgery or hospital location, freeing up vital time and resources to be used elsewhere. These devices are known as IoMT (Internet of Medical Things).

The data captured by IoMT devices will support fully-predicative analytics, greatly reducing the time it will take to detect a health issue and significantly increasing the accuracy of doctor’s diagnoses.

Secure remote consultations

With 5G services, trips to your local doctor’s surgery could become a thing of the past. With the greatly improved data rates that 5G will bring, 3D ultra-HD live video streaming will allow you to connect with your GP in real-time and even access VR (virtual-reality) services simultaneously to help doctors to explain care and patients understand treatment.

These services are invaluable for those patients who are less able to access physical locations because of health issues or the rural location of their home.

Aside from patient care, the same remote streaming consultations could be used for professional training to other healthcare professionals around the world who would otherwise be confined to text-books or basic online learning resources. Using VR, medical students would be able to virtually follow a real-life example of patient care.

Assisted and fully robotic surgery

It may sound like something out of a science-fiction movie, but automated, assisted and fully-robotic services has already begun in surgeries around the world and will significantly improve with the introduction of 5G. This includes the use of haptic devices such as gloves, that allow a surgeon to wear a glove-like device to remotely move and ‘feel’ the patient they are operating on from a different location.

The use of such robotic devices could be used for extremely long surgeries where a human surgeon could become fatigued or lose concentration over a long period of time. Also, they could be used as an assistant to a human surgeon, guiding and assessing the patient as the surgeon operates.

2D/3D scanning

Potentially one of the oldest and most important techniques for diagnoses comes from scanning a patient’s body for clues and information in to their condition. With 5G, scanning could be achieved at a fraction of the time it currently takes and made available for review more quickly and to more healthcare professionals in near real-time. The services could also feed in to the video and VR capabilities that 5G would bring, allowing for multiple patient assessment and ultimately more accurate diagnosis.

It would also be able to assist in training, again for trainee professionals to better understand a patient and their symptoms.

The ultra-reliable services that 5G technologies bring to mobile communication will no-doubt be life-changing for many people around the world and particularly in the field of healthcare. Both patients and professionals will benefit from the improvements it will bring to treatment and learning services.

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