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5G and medicine converge to improve our health and wellbeing

on tablet

A common human trait is to wait for things to get worse before acting. I know I should visit my doctor to get that check-up, but the only appointment available clashes with an important work meeting. I’ll go another time.

How much easier it would be if I could get an online consultation with my doctor. That’s something becoming more common, but even better would be continuous health monitoring to identify the onset of illnesses, enabling early treatment for faster recovery.

Monitoring as an everyday practice would also help limit the spread of infectious diseases, drastically reducing the number of patients needing treatment. It’s something of particular importance at the moment with the COVID-19 crisis.

5G performance makes it happen

5G will be able to handle billions of devices, whether smartphones, smart watches, smart scales or any other measuring device. Biosensors and trackers embedded into our clothing and accessories will provide valuable feedback and flag up early signs of change in our health.

Such monitoring is just one example of how 5G will be essential for many advances in medicine. I found a recent article in Time Magazine that highlights 12 healthcare innovations for the 2020s. Interestingly, many of them, from drone-delivered medical supplies, to mind-reading wristbands, to virtual reality enhanced rehab, will need high performance connectivity that only 5G can provide.

There is plenty of medical innovation to come to tackle the issues the health industry faces. Aggregating big data collected from millions of patients and using artificial intelligence for its analysis will help enhance diagnoses. Automation will greatly improve the allocation of appointments for further tests, as well as prescribing and distributing medicines and keeping patients informed.

Putting the technology into practice

In fact, some of this is already being tested at Oulu University Hospital in Finland. Mobile robots are used to move medical equipment, deliver medicines from the pharmacy and guide patients to waiting areas. All of which frees up medical staff to focus on other tasks, not to mention saving them from the tiresome need to walk many kilometers across the hospital every day.

The ultra-low latency and high bandwidth connectivity of 5G will also be essential for remote surgery. Full remote surgery may be many years away, but soon I think we will see a consultant from a distant institution being able to advise a surgeon during a procedure without having to transport either the patient or the doctor.

Medicine and telecommunications have perhaps seen the fastest technological advances of any industry over the last 30 years or so. Today, with the roll out of 5G, their paths are converging as never before to improve the health and wellbeing of us all. In fact, without 5G, many future medical innovations may not be possible.

Now, I need to get in touch with my doctor to make that check-up appointment…

Find out more about Nokia eHealth and watch a video about Oulu University Hospital:

Share your thoughts on this topic by joining the Twitter discussion with @nokia or @nokianetworks using #5G #innovation #healthcare

Adam Marczell

About Adam Marczell

Adam drives the marketing activities for Nokia’s Technical Support services. After a career in health and fitness, he turned to the telco industry and has been working on exciting projects for over 10 years. He’s currently focusing on how automation and analytics change network management, and how increased operational efficiency can drive a new era of 5G digital support. He’s also our lead for 5G use case marketing for smart stadiums and healthcare.
Due to his extensive sports background, he had his fair share in both of those locations, unfortunately.

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