Asia’s Healthcare Industry On The Edge of 5G Transformation

Over the past two decades, Southeast Asia has shed its image of an agrarian backwater and transformed into a world leader in developing the latest technologies such as blockchainartificial intelligence (AI)roboticscloud computing and fintech among others.

Now let’s welcome 5G into the mix. 5G refers to the fifth generation of cellular mobile communications and is the successor to 4G (LTE/WiMax), 3G (UMTS) and 2G (GSM) networks. 5G connectivity is expected to come with much higher bandwidth and reduced latency which could save on energy and reduce overall usage costs. Here are the implications for healthcare:

  1. Expanding Access to Primary Care

5G networks will enable patients in rural areas to connect remotely with providers around the country through crystal-clear video. Additionally, physicians will be able to monitor their patients remotely, as 5G-connected IoT devices—like wearables—will help them collect patients’ biometric data including weight, blood pressure, respiratory rate, to monitor patient’s health during treatment.

2. Transforming Emergency Response

5G is poised to transform emergency transport, improving survival rates for those who cannot afford to wait. With 5G, ambulances can be transformed into WiFi-enabled smart vehicles and facilitate mission-critical communication. This will allow first responders to operate on a dedicated, secured part of the 5G network—just for them—that never gets clogged. So, EMTs outfitted with body cameras will be able to stream real-time 4K video of patients to specialists, who can guide them through best treatment practices.

3. Improving Diagnostics and Surgical Outcomes

Artificial intelligence (AI) is speedily becoming an indispensable part of hospital infrastructure. Already, AI diagnostic tools rival human physicians in accuracy. Also, deep-learning algorithms will only grow more intelligent in the coming years.

5G networks will be at the heart of this boom, feeding AI algorithms the data required to function and improve, and enabling VR clinical trials, hyper-accurate biometric data collection, precision surgery and advanced diagnostics.  

It looks like 5G networks are positioning us for great interconnectivity, and this could imply the resolving of many healthcare issues in time to come.

In the case of America, by many accounts, the healthcare system is “grossly inefficient.” Data systems—from clinical notes to lab work; from diagnostic history to imaging tests—are fragmented and often documented on paper, making things complicated for medical workers.

According to a recent Gallup Report, “nurses in the U.S. spend an extra 18 hours per week on administrative tasks and clerical workers spend an additional 37 hours,” compared to their Canadian counterparts.

At the same time, life-saving care remains out of reach for many people, including 80% of rural Americans. And in aggregate, Americans pay more money for worse health outcomes, like shorter life expectancy, higher rates of both maternal and infant mortality and more obesity.

Fortunately, 5G technology has an important role to play in helping solve many of these problems. With its ability to support millions more devices at speeds up to 100-times faster than 4G, it will lay the foundation for new medical innovations that will improve access to care and emergency transport, diagnosis and surgery and post-hospital care.

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