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The Giant Health Event 2021: “The demand-side needs to understand 5G’s capabilities”

  • 3 minute read
  • Published by Crispin Moller on 1 Dec 2021
  • Last modified 2 Dec 2021
Advanced, ubiquitous mobile and fibre connectivity is a fundamental requirement to deliver Health and Social Care fit for the 21st Century.

Earlier today, in a UK5G and Cellnex session at the Giant Health Event 2021, a panel of experts—Tony Sceales, Simon Fletcher, Ann Williams, Catherine Gull, Joan Cornet, Peter Cambouropoulos, and Jannette Hughes—discussed how their work will enable or build on 5G connectivity, and how to tackle the transition from testbeds and trials to real implementation. Read our highlights below. 

1. 5G Technology: What is it and when is it ready for the various potential use cases? 

“5G is trying to achieve ubiquitous connectivity,” said Simon Fletcher, CTO at Real Wireless. He explained that governments have woken up to the social benefits that could be initiated through 5G use cases and have begun to converge technical and economic thinking to consider investment cases and the potential GDP impact. 

“The goal is to get to a point where we’re enabling many different use cases in many different environments, whether indoor, outdoor, campuses or hospitals where you have multiple buildings and people moving around and ideally, working seamlessly with the help of good quality devices,” he added. But what about Wi-Fi? Fletcher emphasised that 5G offers more effective mobility. “For example, it can be used while moving a patient in an ambulance from a town or city into the hospital environment,” he said. 

Pointing to the UK5G Health and Social Care Hub, he concluded: “The health service technologists have shown that there are lots of capabilities. But the demand-side needs to understand 5G’s capabilities too. It’s early days but that’s why it’s a great time to be engaged with 5G: you can shape and influence the requirements of the more advanced features and use cases.” 

2. 5G in Hospitals (from a clinician’s perspective) 

“High-quality care is the most important thing in health care,” said Joan Cornet, founder of the Innovation Health Academy in Barcelona. “We need seamless, integrated care to have more time to care for our nations, and less paperwork, to enable remote monitoring of patients.” 

Cornet explained that data is crucial in healthcare. “We have images that require high amounts of data to process and this data should be accessible whenever,” she said. Additional areas where 5G would be useful, she added, include safety, security and staff training. 

Cornet concluded: “5G is a high-quality tool that can help to provide high-quality care. But it is important that clinicians are aware of the advantages and know how to use and provide new technologies, which will facilitate better health care.”

3. What are the key challenges that 5G technology and advanced connectivity might help to solve?

The increasing number of patients requiring healthcare is placing a great strain on the sector, said Peter Cambouropoulos, Digital Lead, Hampshire Together: Modernising our Hospitals and Health Services, NHS. He highlighted that the main area of focus needs to be preventative and at-home care, which should hopefully improve people’s mental health. 

How could advanced connectivity support the NHS? “We aim to use 5G technology to better predict health and diseases and help support patients to be healthy and active, as well as understand when things are going wrong so that we can intervene early. We want to make both patients and staff’s lives easier: that is what is important here,” Cambouropoulos said. 

Head to Giant Health to hear more first-hand cases and examples from leading telecoms operators and technology players working with healthcare professionals, as well as a high-level view of how COVID-19 has impacted the digital health market.

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