4 Ways 5G Will Change Healthcare

9 August 2019

5G networks have started spreading all over the world. Today there is only a small number of working 5G networks in the US. The situation remains the same in the UK and Australia, where several providers have already launched 5G services. It’s expected that these networks won’t reach most people until the latter stages of 2020. By 2030, however, at least 30% of the North American population will have access to the technology. 

What possibilities does 5G bring? High downloading speed, 4K video reproduction, working with any data from the mobile devices, high speed of data access, downloading any applications. This progress will undoubtedly change many industries. Let us take a look at how this technology will impact healthcare.


5G Making Inroads into Healthcare

Up to recently, there has been one main way to get healthcare services. When you fall ill, you travel to the hospital, get a diagnosis, and follow through on the doctor’s recommendations. 

The problem with this approach is that people who live far away from hospitals and other health care facilities might not be able to see a doctor in time. In the villages, for instance, patients have died just because they couldn’t get to the hospital on time. 

The advent of telemedicine and remote home monitoring systems has helped resolve some of the challenges. Through these innovative technologies, doctors and health facilities can monitor patients from the patient’s home and, after a short video call, offer the necessary medical advice and even submit transcriptions. 

Remote monitoring, however, comes with one major challenge – network strains. Remotely monitoring dozens or even a few hundred patients at a go can put significant strain on a facility’s network, affecting both the speeds and reliability of the connections. In the end, this can delay care delivery, which could hurt outcomes in the long run. The problem is further complicated by the ever-expanding Internet of things (IoT). As more devices get onto a network, connections become even slower.

How 5G Promises to Solve these Problems

5G could be the technology that finally solves this problem and ultimately brings care closer to patients. The following are four ways the technology could benefit the healthcare industry. 

  • Impact on AR, VR, and AI

Finally, 5G networks will also have a direct impact on other innovative technologies in healthcare such as Artificial Intelligence (AI), Virtual Reality (VR), and Artificial Intelligence (AI). 5G networks will play a starring role in realizing the full potential of these technologies. That’s because AI, AR, and VR all use huge amounts of data while requiring very fast internet connections. Only 5G can offer that. 

Powered by Big Data, AI is only going to grow bigger, with its impact in healthcare predicted to increase multifold in the next decade. In the future, it could be the go-to technology when it comes to the analysis of patient records in real-time. Even today there are many sensors that are able to monitor and control your health condition. With the development of 5G technology, their amount will increase and the quality of their prediction will improve. The situation when you don’t have to go to see a doctor to get a diagnosis is getting more real every day. 

  • Expanding telemedicine 

Before we get to speed, the first impact of 5G in healthcare will come in the form of expanded telemedicine. According to a recent study by Market Research Future, the telemedicine field is expected to grow at 16.5% annually, up to 2023. This fast growth is primarily fueled by demand in rural areas combined with government incentives. 

Just imagine yourself a robot, which scans your body, provides the full image of it and passes this data to the doctor, who uses VR glasses to examine you. For this scenario to succeed a reliable network is required. The network must be able to support real-time quality content. Up to recently, this could only be achieved with wired networks. The entry of 5G changes everything. Through 5G, health care systems can handle larger files, including video calls and image files, without any strains. This will result in a significant increase in the reach of telemedicine programs. 

  • Reliable, real-time remote monitoring

5G networks will also have a huge impact on remote monitoring. According to research firm Anthem, 86% of doctors say that wearable devices, which are currently one of the most common monitoring devices, increase patient engagement. It keeps patients aware of their health at all times. Wearable devices are also expected to reduce health care costs by up to 16% over the next five years. 

Despite these benefits, however, the impact of wearable devices is currently limited by the low capacity of networks. Considering that millions of people wear or need to have these devices, network congestion is a real challenge. 5G technology is expected to resolve these network issues, allowing more people to enjoy the benefits that come with wearable medical devices and telemedicine in general. 

  • Easy transmission of large image files

MRIs and other medical images are large files but must be sent to the doctor for a specialist review. These files are almost impossible to send over traditional low-capacity networks. Even where the image eventually reaches the doctor, it could take a long time. In health care, every wasted second puts the patient’s health in greater danger. 

Adding a high-speed 5G network to existing architectures removes capacity and reliability bottlenecks, allowing for quick sending of any type of medical files. This improves both access to and quality of care. At one cancer center in Austin, for example, a PET scanner generates extremely large files – up to 1GB per patient. Getting such a large volume of data from the hospital to patients on the other side of town is only possible through a fast, reliable connection, such as 5G.

Hopefully, Everyone Embraces the Technology

The above four are just a few examples of what 5G networks can do to healthcare. There are many other ways the technology will impact the industry. Big Data, which we also touched on, for instance, also heavily relies on speed. The same applies to health care robotics, payment processing, insurance, etc. 

Although healthcare has been notoriously resistant and slow to change, NIX has extensive expertise in developing cutting-edge solutions for this domain. We hope stakeholders in this industry won’t stand in the way of brilliant technology, and we are prepared to offer our ways for its implementation. Contact us for more information, and let’s move towards the future together.