A new age of healthcare with 5G

James Norman, healthcare chief information officer at Dell, explores how 5G will optimise the healthcare industry for both patients and healthcare providers, providing access to real-time smart data on patient vital signs and access tools that will reduce patient re-admission rates

There are few things that everyone agrees on, but when it comes to medical visits, they are often a time-intensive and inconvenient experience.

In a world where there is never enough time; the idea of sitting in a waiting room surrounded by other sick people is not an experience many look forward to.

And, with healthcare providers stretched across the board, contending with squeezed budgets, and tasked with adhering to 10-minute consultations; it’s clear there are several challenges for the medical services to overcome.

By collecting smarter streams of data and leveraging artificial intelligence; healthcare providers – and even patients themselves – can follow trends, detect changes, and identify concerns earlier and more accurately than ever before

But, instead of an on-site visit, what if your actions, vital statistic trends, and other data – collected through IoT devices – could be stored in a health profile and intelligently fed to your caregiver in a secure fashion?

With this degree of insight, check-ups would be more than just 10-minute snapshots into your health, where you lie about how much exercise you do and how much alcohol you drink. Instead, they could become data-driven discussions about your life and what’s been affecting you on an ongoing basis– all done remotely through your laptop, tablet, or phone.

Smart data, smart devices = smart healthcare

The speed, bandwidth and device connectivity promised by 5G and the cellular transformation will provide the basis for re-imagining healthcare and wellness.

By collecting smarter streams of data, rather than points in time; and leveraging artificial intelligence (AI); healthcare providers – and even patients themselves – can follow trends, detect changes, and identify concerns earlier and more accurately than ever before.

Healthcare is not only becoming more virtualised to better connect caregivers, expertise and patients; it is also becoming more personalised in how, and when, care decisions are made.

And the more data points incorporated into a care decision, the more impactful the results can be for the patient.

To meet the needs of a rapidly-changing world, we need an underlying network that can power the speed of connection with the breadth of data. 5G will provide that infrastructure

Right now, the healthcare industry is at a crossroads. While there is an unprecedented amount of data available, providers are not yet able to use that data in the most-relevant and meaningful way.

To meet the needs of a rapidly-changing world, we need an underlying network that can power the speed of connection with the breadth of data.

5G will provide that infrastructure and push smart devices and decisions from the core to the edge, creating secure, smarter data streams and enabling greater personalisation.

James Norman

Enabling care on the go

Imagine how these changes could impact the at-home care of an elderly parent.

IoT sensors could indicate when your parent is awake, if they are active, if they have eaten, what they have eaten, and whether they have taken their medication.

If your parent has a chronic condition, these connected systems will record their vital trends on a rolling basis.

5G will ensure this data capture is performed efficiently and, in a cost-effective way, while using the collected information to make connected devices smarter.

Given the sensitivity of the data, it must all be securely transmitted and shared.

Since these smart devices are deployed and maintained at the edge, rather than in a centralised hub, this data will feed back into and benefit the overall system.

5G will allow users to cut the cord and leverage devices that no longer tether them to specific places or regions.

In the era of value-based care, providers realise the greatest benefits only when their patients’ experiences improve as well

No matter where you are in the world, as you care for your elderly parent, you’ll have access to their health information – providing both peace of mind and a constant stream of insight.

These benefits without boundaries also extend to the patient, providing a gateway for more-connected health.

Daily wellness checks and consults at the first sign of illness can increase the likelihood of an early diagnosis, provide faster treatment and reduce the risk of a secondary infection.

5G can deliver at-home senior care facilitation without geographical or metropolitan-based limits.

This flexibility also applies to the clinical care of your parent.

If they require a specialist consult that isn’t available locally or in a timely fashion, no problem.

The new physician can leverage 5G video to share trends and diagnostic information while interactively engaging with your mum or dad.

This connection can even extend to critical events, like an emergency ambulance ride or during surgery.

While some of these capabilities are available today, 5G makes them more ubiquitous, reliable and immediate.

A smart hospital can capture data throughout your parent’s hospital journey and enable personalised clinical decisions based on trends in their health.

Now what does 5G do for healthcare providers?

At the most-basic level, it helps the provider deliver better care and outcomes for their patients.

Improved follow-up practices and virtual connectivity and monitoring can reduce re-admission rates for patients.

If a patient needing rehabilitation is asked to perform regular exercises, they are much more likely to be compliant if a friendly nurse can check in with them over video chat – especially if that nurse can also access smart data into whether the patient has done their exercises in the first place.

Smart technology and 5G can blur the walls between the hospital and the home, better managing the care of long-term patients who require the most resources from the healthcare system.

Ongoing wellness checks and virtual engagement programmes can reduce the costs of caring for these individuals, particularly for rural providers.

5G can help power personalised, smarter care capabilities and elevate connected medicine to an unprecedented level

Thanks to 5G, rural hospitals can have access to virtual top-shelf resources when needed and can better serve their communities.

They can compete for their patients’ healthcare funding by virtually connecting the right resources and expertise with the patient.

In the era of value-based care, providers realise the greatest benefits only when their patients’ experiences improve as well.

The potential for 5G to transform the healthcare industry is both exciting and important.

It can help power personalised, smarter care capabilities and elevate connected medicine to an unprecedented level.

Better healthcare means more than just cutting costs and providing improved services.

At the end of the day, it means creating a system that allows for patients’ voices to be heard, better outcomes, and the tools and tips that patients need to live longer, healthier lives.

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