From remote diagnosis to smart ambulances, 5G is creating new possibilities. Upcoming technologies can improve healthcare – from specialist clinics to rural areas. Let’s take a look forward at a few examples of the potential health benefits of the new mobile technology.
The option of an online consultation can improve medical care tremendously, especially in the countryside. Irrespective of location, the doctor can carry out preliminary and follow-up examinations, formulate an initial diagnosis and save sick people a long journey. Thanks to the expansion of the 5G network, contact goes more smoothly, whenever and wherever, and this in turn improves overall access to medical care.
Thanks to artificial intelligence, tomorrow’s ECG devices – for example – will be able to do more than just generate readings. They will also be able to assist with diagnosis – provided the patients agree to this. In this case, the information will no longer be stored on the devices themselves but in a central cloud specific to the clinic. This calls for a strong and reliable network (see explanation below concerning campus networks). Not only does the cloud have more processing power, it is also a valuable data pool. Such large data volumes are often referred to as “big data”. The findings gained from analysing this can, for example, lead to an improvement in diagnostics. And because the technology learns from many other cases that have already been saved, hopefully it will be possible to treat patients faster and more accurately. Big data is already being used to assist in the treatment of rare diseases and in oncology.
With improved mobile communications coverage, doctors will in the future be able, more readily and flexibly, to come together as digital networks, compare findings and swiftly obtain second opinions from experts. There will no longer be any major effort involved in sharing treatment plans with outpatient nursing services, midwives or physiotherapists, or with patients sitting in their living rooms. Family members or people in a position of trust will also be able to take part remotely in shared consultations.
Specialised experts will be able to share their knowledge without always having to be present in person. For those suffering from rare diseases, this can be tremendously helpful: often, such people have few living contacts who are properly familiar with their requirements, and any such contacts may be scattered widely. This can make it easier for patients, as well as their relatives, to plan and organise their daily routines – especially in cases requiring teamwork in order to optimise treatment.
In the future, surgeons will also be able to take part in operations on patients many kilometres away. In networked operating rooms, 5G data transmission will enable doctors to connect and carry out certain steps involved in minimally invasive surgery remotely and in real time. Or they will advise the team, guiding the procedure.
In emergencies, the patient can hardly be brought to the hospital fast enough. By combining a comprehensive expansion of 5G with modern vehicles, it is now possible for specialists in the hospital, using a video connection and data transmission, to make an initial assessment even before the patient arrives. This allows them to undertake important preparatory work, so that the patient can be cared for faster in the hospital. On the way, the ambulance team can call up the patient’s digital medical records and access life-saving information – any underlying medical conditions, for example – more quickly.
Medical devices should be used in a way that optimally benefits patients. With 5G technology, clinic staff are better placed to satisfy this requirement. Intelligent and networked devices transmit their location and status. Are you free? Is your battery running low? This means unnecessary journeys are avoided and work routines are improved. Instead of wasting time locating devices or servicing them, staff are able to care for patients more intensively.
Healthcare for people who suffer from chronic illness can be improved by constantly monitoring their health. Such monitoring also allows elderly people living at home to retain more independence. Mobile healthcare applications or assistance systems in the home can help with this by identifying fluctuations in biometric data and sending alerts – in the event of a fall, for example. This makes it possible for treating doctors or the relevant nursing services to intervene promptly.
Networked insulin pumps or pacemakers can send location data to the relevant control centre in life-threatening situations, thereby triggering an emergency alarm. In the event of technical malfunctions or device failure, this can save lives. Thanks to the alarm, help can be dispatched swiftly – help that the people affected might not have been in a position to arrange for themselves.
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