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5G in Healthcare - an event summary

  • 6 minute read
  • Published by Lucy Woods on 20 Nov 2019
  • Last modified 2 Dec 2019
5G and Healthcare - a recent Cambridge Wireless SIG event which explored 5G and Healthcare.

The latest CW (Cambridge Wireless) Healthcare SIG event took place at the rather comfortable One Nucleus event facility, located at Chesterford Research Park, Saffron Walden.

The CW membership boasts a number of companies with healthcare and telco experience both of which are key to todays event.

CW ecosystem slide

Nigel Whittle opened the event which was kindly hosted by Plextek who specialise in working with clients tackle technical problems in a number of sectors, including those thorny challenges in the medical healthcare sector. Nigel is Head of Medical & Healthcare at Plextek, spearheading engagement with a range of clients in the medical device sector, helping them develop innovative technology around sensors, data collection, communications and related areas.

He closed his welcome with "thinking about the medi/tele-care space, 5G is going to have a considerable impact”.

Julian Hildersly, Consultan - Medical Device Technology at TTP gave a brief introduction to 5G in Healthcare.


Julian explained that existing healthcare technologies, although not dependent on 5G, are very much fragmented. The advent of 5G provides a coherent set of standardised technologies.

Example challenges and solutions were explored:

  • The above slide demonstrates the extreme file sizes and through-put of hospital imaging machines. Julian talked through the eMBB technology benefit. 
  • Delay in voice telephony. 5G introduces URLLC solution which improves bandwidth transfer which is crucial for time-critical services.
  • Tracking blood pressure or chronic conditions in the not-so-tech-savvy patient. 5G gives the possibility of leap-frogging the bluetooth hopping issues and goes directly to the device in question. Think of 5G as a basket of capabilities vs a singular technology which you’d associate more with LTE.

Julian closed with: “5G offers lots of potential...perhaps not revolutionary but the following use cases will demonstrate its usefulness."

View Julian's slides here

Gayle Cogswell, Programme Director for West Midlands 5G (WM5G) spoke about the 5G healthcare trials taking place in Birmingham.

WM5G UCC slide

WM5G exists to catapult the region into a functioning 5G use case. Its mission is to:

  1. Test, prove and scale new 5G services
  2. Accelerate 5G & fibre networks

Gayle talked about the key benefits offered up by 5G:

  • Massive device connectivity > imagine the glue that will stitch the massive amount of smart city technologies and sensors. 5G will be the catalyst for this. 
  • Ultra-low latency 
  • Better capacity and ultra high speeds
  • Data-driven insights

The 5G benefits won’t happen automatically, Gayle pointed out.

Fibre is still a challenge and acceleration is needed. Huge amounts of data exists but AI and machine learning is needed to make sense of the data and translate it into commercial solutions.

5G Connect Ambulance video (below) which shows how WM5G is working with University Hospitals Birmingham NHS Foundation Trust (UHB) and BT to showcase how 5G can transform healthcare and the emergency services.

5G is needed for the video transmission; high resolution images are captured in the ambulance which equates to big data. The haptic gloves (shown in the video) and sharing data in real-time between the ED and medic is a fantastic showcase of sensory communication - it’s an all encompassing experience between the clinician and ED Consultant.

The cost of integration is prohibitive so ongoing conversations are being had with the key stakeholders involved in the trial.

Real time video sharing> Peer-to-peer communication and reliability is strengthened by real-time video transmission made which is made possible by 5G. 
Ingestibles and wearables > Data capture and transmission via 5G technology in real-time. This brings with it time-critical savings.

Some valid concerns were put to Gayle, which are paraphrased below:

  • A connected ambulance vs an unconnected street
    There is a waiting game but having a halfway house is better than nothing. Quantifying cost savings and efficiency savings is a big chunk of the challenge to displace too.
  • Why 5G when 4G will do
    When there is no wireless, the whole technology is rendered redundant. It’s a technology and a political problem with regards to rollout. Rest assured, these conversations are being had.

View Gayle's slides here

Toktam Mahmoodi from the Centre for Telecommunication Research Department of Engineering at King’s College London spoke next. 

Toktam highlighted some resources which she encouraged delegates to review at their leisure:

-5G case study study of internet of skills  (view here)
- Tele surgery PoC at 2017 MWC, sensors that detect tissue type, 260 degree high resolution cameras to provide feedback channel for practicioners. The PoC allows for lessons learned such as multimodal communication, maintenance of haptic feedback and significance of reliability, and guaranteed latency. 

- MWC 2019 connected 5G ambulance with BT and Ericsson (view here)

View Toktams slides here

The final presenters were from the Liverpool 5G Health and Social Care Testbed; Rosemary Kay (Liverpool 5G Testbed) & Ann Williams, (Liverpool City Council).

Ann spoke about the CGI mesh network that has been deployed in which a number of 5G enabled services/technologies have been piloted. This video provides a good summary:

From the E-health adoption readiness level tool, they discovered from the 30,000 social care visits made daily across Liverpool, there’s an adoption issue not a technology issue.

Liverpool adoption readiness tool

These tools help to measure Testbed use cases in terms of need and success.

View slides

Nitin Dahad from EE Times attended this event and his event write-up can be found here >>
5G in Health: It’s Not Just About the Technology