January | 2022

The healthcare industry is moving away from a hospital-focused structure to a patient-focused structure. Healthcare operators are predicted to spend $76 billion on 5G digital transformations by 2026 to make this future a reality. These 5G investments will allow AI, the internet of medical things (IoMT), telemedicine, big data analytics and immersive technologies like AR, VR and extended reality to benefit patients and providers in remarkable new ways. With 5G-enabled smart devices and new 5G networks, the healthcare industry is on the verge of innovations that will improve the quality of care and drive operational efficiencies. Achieving this vision requires overcoming several key challenges. Fortunately, 5G can help.

Challenges that 5G Can Address in the Healthcare Industry

The challenges in healthcare tend to change over time. The challenges healthcare providers and hospitals face now include supply disruptions, a shortage of hospital beds and testing equipment, the need to provide a better patient experience, a lack of timely ambulances for emergencies, and a lack of efficient patient-focused treatment. Creative 5G deployments can address each of these.

Supply Disruptions

It is important to keep track of the supplies required to treat patients, yet inventory management is a serious challenge for most healthcare providers. Real-time data via 5G networks can make ordering more efficient and improve stocking to ensure there are no shortages. Big data analytics can add further value by predicting historic times of high need for better planning.

Shortage of Hospital Beds and Testing Equipment

Capacity concerns arise when hospitals get overwhelmed due to a surge of patients. Specialty rooms and testing are required to treat the patient successfully. Telemedicine and IoMT can reduce bed demand by adding remote treatment and monitoring options. These services require higher bandwidth and speeds only available with 5G.

Better Patient Experience

The failure to go digital has an immediate impact on the patient experience. Hospital providers need to use technology to enhance these experiences. Innovation around more accurate diagnoses with real-time data will drive better patient outcomes and advanced predictive maintenance that can determine patient health risks, monitor vital signs and provide relevant alerts. These new technologies add further value when combining real-time data with blended lifestyle data. The speed and capacity of 5G make it possible to combine and access larger data sets that improve hospital and physician services.

Lack of Timely Ambulances

The time it takes an ambulance to reach a patient or transport him or her to the hospital can impact the patient’s health outcome. A 5G-enabled ambulance allows paramedics to access the patients’ medical records and even sensor data to make more informed, life-saving decisions at a time when seconds truly matter.

Lack of Efficient Patient-Focused Treatment

Every patient expects personal care from a hospital provider, but providing that level of care becomes challenging when patient loads increase. Investing in new technologies such asIoT devices, AR/VR, Digital Twins and more can provide innovative treatments and remote monitoring.

5G Brings Innovation to Healthcare

To enable end-to-end digital transformation in the healthcare sector, enterprises need to resolve the challenges mentioned above by leveraging 5G. The enhanced speed and efficiency that 5G provides can transform the healthcare industry with real-time data. It is real-time data that holds the promise for smarter and innovative solutions and services that can deliver meaningful value to customers and companies alike.

In healthcare, 5G offers exciting possibilities like remote patient monitoring, remote surgery, advanced predictive maintenance, connected ambulance, augmented and virtual reality and advanced self-serve hospital kiosks. These capabilities – all enabled by 5G – will drive the next generation of innovation in healthcare.

About the Author(s)

Ruchira Salve

Associate Consultant, 5G, Wipro Limited

Ruchira is a part of the 5G Industry Solutions team at Wipro. Her primary responsibilities include advisory and consulting on 5G and EDGE portfolios for the global manufacturing, automotive, smart cities and healthcare sectors.

Balakrishnan K

General Manager & Senior Practice Partner, Wipro Limited

Bala heads Wipro's 5G for Enterprise Practice and works in close partnership with Wipro's enterprise customers across industry verticals, evangelizing and driving their enterprise OT strategy over 5G and Edge. He works closely with a distributed 5G ecosystem of partners ranging from device manufacturers, network equipment providers, operators, hyper-scalers and ISVs.

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