The same technology expected to make increasingly immersive virtual reality, driverless cars and other “smart” products possible will also improve hospital processes and patient care—at least, that’s what some early adopters are hoping.
A small number of healthcare organizations in recent years have struck partnerships with telecommunications companies to try out 5G—the newest generation of wireless internet—for an expansive roster of innovative tech projects, including programs related to augmented and virtual reality, robot-assisted telesurgery, and data processing.
The hope is that 5G will offer a significant improvement over 4G and other types of internet infrastructure, where many of those projects are already in use today.
The 5G technology standard is expected to “support higher density with faster speeds,” said Danny Kim, director of information technology at the Lawrence J. Ellison Institute for Transformative Medicine of USC.
The institute is testing out 5G at a new cancer research and treatment facility it opened last year, making it one of the healthcare organizations taking the lead to try to figure out the best applications for 5G.
Though 5G on its own won’t be a game changer, it will underpin other innovations that could be. Designed to offer significantly quicker speed, lower latency and higher bandwidth, 5G could let organizations connect more devices to a network without worrying about the internet service slowing down, opening the door for better remote patient monitoring or tracking additional assets inside of a facility. It could also allow physicians to share large files more quickly and run virtual reality that’s smoother and more responsive to commands.
“When we’re thinking about 5G, we’re also talking about (the internet of things), we’re also talking about cloud computing, we’re also talking about (artificial intelligence),” said Michela Landoni, a telecoms analyst at Fitch Solutions Macro Research.
Experts from five early adopters and one that is waiting shared how they’re approaching 5G and where they see the most potential for the technology.