Will 5G Revolutionize Healthcare For Everyone?
As 5G rolls out, we will see more and more use cases, say experts
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With the 5G rollout, the innumerable debates over its negative impact on health are back. Multiple epidemiological studies are being held across the globe to come out with concrete data on the same. However, ironically, 5G is also all set to revolutionize healthcare.
The fifth generation of wireless network technology is expected to resolve telehealth's challenges by addressing its most limiting factor so far, that is, the network bandwidth, especially in rural areas. This is the most established use case of 5G in healthcare so far.
"As 5G rolls out, we will see more and more use cases. 5G is a huge opportunity to up the scope of reach. Data is our essence. We should tap into this data effectively. Policy framework also has to be looked at to see how effectively it can be used," said Vidur Mahajan, chief executive officer, CARPL.ai, while speaking at the IET Future Tech Congress (FTC).
Further, it can give a boost to the most advanced technologies that can give better healthcare experience to patients and also reduce healthcare costs, such as artificial intelligence (AI), machine learning (ML), IoT and big data. "Data is of utmost essence. We have to figure out ways in which we can tap into it whilst also understanding it. We need to understand how we can leverage such data with the correct solutions to bridge gaps in the healthcare industry," added Mahajan.
The potential of 5G springs from the fact that its technical attributes represent a quantum leap forward from its predecessor, 4G, says a PricewaterhouseCoopers report on 5G in healthcare. "5G is capable of achieving speeds approximately 100 times faster than 4G's while also handling vastly more connections. And these advantages are strengthened by ultra-low latency, the time it takes for the network to process a request," it adds.
Clinical trials or investigations of drugs is another area where 5G has huge scope. "On trials, the opportunity is huge. 5G will revolutionize clinical investigations for drug development. With 5G the trials will move into patient homes. Traditional pharma has been slow in tech adoption. However, in the recent past, almost 80 per cent of pharma have leveraged tech to decentralize trials. So I'm positive about 5G usage," said Kamala Rai, Vice President, Sr Global Program Head, Novartis.
The first decentralized clinical trial happened in 2011. However, Covid piled up many trials. However, now with 5G coming in and life back to normal, we are expected to see more personalized medicine. Now we will see personalized medicine. Moreover, with better connectivity, digital literacy will also flourish, which, the experts feel will increase awareness about preventive medicine.
Another immediate use case is in the field of emergency healthcare. "Today, the ambulance has doubled up as a mini ICU. This is because, given our population, reaching before the golden hour tends to get difficult. So, today, the treatment starts In the ambulance. Such treatments can further be improved with 5G. Also, hospitals can monitor the arrival of different ambulances and prioritize accordingly. And, depending on vitals, doctors can monitor remotely without any lag," said Satkeerthi M, CTO, Airtel Business.