The facility is based at the North East Technology Park and will host various organisations as they work on producing new tech for the healthcare sector. The overall idea is to provide a showcase of 5G and IoT-enabled use cases, from practical sounding ideas such as real-time asset management of equipment and medical supplies, to the often cited but still eyebrow raising example of VR headsets for surgery.
Cellnex and CPI – which describes itself as a deep tech innovation organisation – also point to the more latent benefits of 5G networks, such as providing NHS Trusts and other healthcare providers with improvements in network reliability, capacity, speed, and security, and claims getting the healthcare sector suitably teched up has the potential to alleviate many of the issues it faces, ultimately driving efficiencies and improving patient wellbeing – goals it is hard to argue with.
“Wireless connectivity is a critical foundation for success, and this private 5G testbed will enable the advancement of digital transformation in society, with the potential to revolutionise the way we care for people,” said David Crawford, Managing Director, Cellnex UK. “For example, we are testing remote refrigeration monitoring, which will reduce waste from medical supplies including highly-perishable vaccines. This will reduce healthcare providers’ costs and – most importantly – mean that we can deliver more life-saving vaccinations to people who need them in a shorter period of time.”
Steven Bagshaw, Head of Business Strategy, HealthTech at CPI added: “The collaboration between Cellnex UK and CPI provides an incredible opportunity to accelerate the commercialisation of next-generation connected healthcare devices and solutions into the healthcare sector. Underpinned by digital innovation and multi-partner development programmes, our role is to bring together the HealthTech ecosystem to unlock existing pain points, whilst creating a reduced risk environment for partners to explore novel digital innovations which ultimately help improve the patient experience of the future.”
Healthcare is often put forward as one of the more weighty and useful areas that 5G could revolutionise in tandem with IoT gadgetry – one example being the ability for specialists to diagnose and assist with patients being rushed to hospital remotely, which could get them the right treatment quicker. And in the UK right now it feels like anything that stands a chance of reducing the backlog and improving the general service of the NHS is worth a punt.
However the successful implementation of something practical in the real world is the measure of success for 5G lab/hub/thinktank projects like this, and there are certainly a lot of them humming away by this point. We’re told the project aims to have at least one innovation commercially adopted by the healthcare sector within 12 months, so we’ll just have to see what happens with that.
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