5G provides the connectivity features and improvements the world is looking for to expand telemedicine and revolutionize the future of healthcare now. The future of healthcare is telemedicine. Telemedicine expands the reach of healthcare providers and improves healthcare equity, as well as patient care through effective and as-needed monitoring.
The COVID pandemic forced healthcare providers to adapt and become flexible to provide care for patients unable to come into a healthcare facility. Telemedicine quickly became a reality in what felt like overnight. Patients could keep in contact with providers and find quality care from the safety of their own homes using an internet connection and a computer, cell phone, or tablet.
The features of 5G will enable telemedicine to expand across the globe and reduce current barriers to equitable healthcare access. 5G can revolutionize the quality, productivity, and expansion of healthcare so that all have access to quality healthcare providers regardless of location.
This guide describes how 5G affects healthcare by advancing technology improvements in telemedicine and enabling healthcare delivery in near real-time.
- What telemedicine technology is advanced with 5G connectivity?
- Discover the features of 5G that power telemedicine.
- What are the benefits of 5G for the healthcare system overall?
- What challenges face the adoption of advances in telemedicine?
- Find out the benefits of 5G empowered telemedicine and the future of healthcare.
What Telemedicine Technologies are Advanced with 5G Connectivity?
5G enables telemedicine to reach new heights by providing the connectivity and power to make telemedicine technology work. Wearable devices are no longer for simply personal fitness tracking. Wearables can be expanded to include patient monitoring for many conditions. Medical providers could track patient adherence to medications or simply perform routine tests and check-ins with no need for patient interaction unless required.
Imagine wearing a watch device that’s tracking your vitals, monitoring an organ transplant, and executing tests that are reported directly to your patient record all by simply wearing a watch enabled with telemedicine technology.
Telemedicine technology requires not only a high-speed and reliable connection but one that can securely and rapidly transfer large data files. 5G telemedicine technology can increase the quality of medical device integration. The watch you wear may transfer not only vitals, but conduct tests, document medication intake, and relay it through IoT sensors to your patient record in real-time. The technology can include alerts for test results that require immediate medical intervention and contact you directly or even contact emergency services directly for you.
Patient monitoring apps that are currently installed on cell phones, laptops, or tablets could be enhanced to do more than track lab results for patients taking high-risk medications. Patient monitoring apps could use 5G to monitor the effects of high-risk medications on patients all day, every day, and alert the medical provider and patient if there are issues.
No need to rely on patients manually entering data into an app. The app does all the work and conducts tests, analyzes results, and reports back automatically to the patient record and their provider with no need for manual patient action.
With 5G, telesurgery and remote consultation are made possible. With the ability to transfer large and persistent data files rapidly, surgeons have access to patient data in real time during surgery. Surgeons can also connect with other surgeons for remote consultations in real time. Better, faster, care regardless of location improves patient outcomes and equal access to higher-quality care.
Other telemedicine technologies advanced by the features of 5G include:
- Connected ambulances and emergency services
- Remote diagnosis
- Implant monitoring
- Remote robotic surgery
- Remote consultation in real-time
- Enhanced medical image quality
- Dynamic echocardiography, otolaryngologic and dermatologic exams
- Dynamic telepathology consultation and analysis
- Remote ultrasonography
- AR/VR assistance for the blind
- Distraction and rehabilitation therapies
What Features of 5G Power Telemedicine?
5G features that power telemedicine starts with far lower latency. Data and video are transferred in real-time, which is especially important during emergencies or surgeries when seconds impact patient outcomes. Reliability matters and 5G delivers both reliability and speed when seconds count.
5G’s high bandwidth better manages livestream video from emergency responder’s body cams in the field without losing quality. Better communication enables a higher quality response and saves lives between the time the emergency occurs, and the patient reaches a healthcare facility. Emergency providers can also leverage 5G’s network slicing ability to keep a dedicated, reliable emergency communication connection.
5G’s ability to manage high data transfer volumes enables surgeons to consult or even control robotic devices during surgery. Surgeons can’t reboot the internet during an operation or wait for files to load one pixel at a time. 5G also provides real-time data access to existing patient records, medical results, and images as required.
5G powers telemedicine with its capacity to manage up to 1 million devices per square kilometer. 5G also improves mobility handling transfer between radio nodes up to 500km/h.
5G delivers longer battery life that affects the performance of wearables and other devices connected with healthcare delivery.
What are the Benefits 5G brings to the Healthcare System Overall?
The 5G bandwidth combined with speed and lower latency enables the formation of an efficient and effective information ecosystem. The information ecosystem enables the reliable and secure connection of diverse devices, patient data, and medical providers. The integration of the various healthcare systems is possible using 5G network slicing. Instead of installing more wires to integrate systems, the network is sliced to incorporate other technologies including IoT, wearables, and other medical devices.
All those integrated devices will produce massive amounts of patient and medical data. 5G’s ability to transfer and secure large volumes of data seamlessly means less time wasted waiting for file updates. 5G can handle the volume of data coming from machine microsensors and wearable data from humans and link them together.
For example, an integrated hospital and provider system could be managed by a single nurse tracking patient conditions, identifying false alarms coming from malfunctioning devices, and dispatching the nurse team only when needed to the right patient at the right time. Additionally, patient movements within the hospital for tests, radiology, or other procedures can be tracked and their records updated. Medical providers may be contacted immediately if needed without manual intervention.
Better connectivity equates to improved patient outcomes and more efficient workflows for medical providers and staff. Both patients, providers, and medical staff benefit from not having to travel to provide or receive quality care.
What are the Challenges Facing Telemedicine Adoption?
The healthcare sector has traditionally been slow to adopt digital technology workflows. The COVID pandemic forced the healthcare system worldwide to adapt quickly to using digital technology to diagnose, monitor, and manage patient care. The barriers to digital transformation have been overcome. The skepticism of both healthcare professionals and patients has been significantly reduced but continues to create barriers.
Patients and providers are understanding the benefits of telemedicine in providing and expanding the quality of healthcare. Medical providers are busy, so reducing unnecessary appointments improves both quality of work and lessens provider fatigue and burnout. Many patients appreciate saving time traveling when in-person visits are unnecessary.
Challenges for telemedicine remain. Providers and patients must become comfortable communicating remotely. Access to technology and 5G connectivity may be challenging for lower-income and older patients who don’t have personal access to a computer or mobile device.
In the same way, medical personnel must adjust to digital telemedicine. Old habits are hard to break for most people, including medical professionals. Distrust of computerized healthcare systems and frequent connection issues make professionals wary of relying on technology. Time and use of telemedicine will make believers of both patients and medical professionals. 5G will enable providers and patients to experience a fast, reliable method of communication this is both secure and effective.
Software and system security is an ongoing challenge. The challenge of telemedicine security includes personal patient and provider data, medical data, and insurance information. With all the data coming in from millions of devices across integrated and shared networks it’s wise to be concerned. Medical device and software creators will need to make security a high priority along with overall software quality and accuracy. Government regulations and standards for medical software and devices must expand to cover the coming influx of connected devices.
The benefits of telemedicine are phenomenal. Powered by the features of 5G, telemedicine can provide access to quality healthcare a reality for everyone, anywhere. Additionally, the ramifications to patient outcome improvements and increased medical provider staff efficiencies are impressive. Patients can be monitored remotely without the need for manual intervention for anything from heart issues, high-risk medications, transplants, or diabetes maintenance.
Physicians and providers can consult remotely in real-time on surgical procedures. Not only will it save patients’ lives and provide equitable care regardless of location, but it will extend knowledge sharing and procedure training, and improve provider quality. Physicians can focus on patient care and analysis when needed from their home, office, or hospital. Patients gain better quality care and save time traveling to offices for unnecessary in-person appointments. Patients that cannot travel can still get quality care. In emergency situations, EMTs can send patient details before their arrival saving valuable time and communicating accurate and essential information. 5G features and telemedicine technology power the future of healthcare and it promises to amaze.