5G IN ACTION: LIVE REMOTE DIAGNOSIS

Where has 5G been deployed to enable live remote diagnosis?

Working with the University Hospitals Birmingham NHS Foundation Trust, the West Midlands 5G programme conducted the UK’s first demonstration of a remote-controlled ultrasound scan over a public 5G network. The demonstration simulated a paramedic performing an ultrasound scan on a patient, under the remote guidance of a clinician who was able to interpret the ultrasound image in real-time. The ultrasound sensor was manipulated locally by the paramedic under the remote direction of the clinician, who used a joystick to send control signals over the live 5G network to a robotic or ‘haptic’ glove. This created small vibrations to direct the paramedic’s hand, allowing the clinician to remotely control the sensor position and see the ultrasound images in real time. 

Enabling ultrasound scans to be performed by paramedics with remote live diagnosis can bring a number of advantages to both patients and the NHS. In addition to speeding up diagnosis, the technology could reduce the number of ambulance journeys and hospital visits, freeing up resources. Crucially, scans performed in the field can enable faster diagnoses, ensuring more effective outcomes for the patient and increasing overall efficiency for the hospital.

UHB

Vodafone Ireland, in collaboration with the ASSERT Centre in University of Cork, is creating the first 5G-connected telemedicine and medical robotics training centre in the world. The team are exploring point of care systems (for example, ultrasounds) and how 5G could transform their use, particularly in developing countries or disaster zones.

Barry o'Reilly

Meanwhile, Ericsson is collaborating with Imaginalis — a company that researches, develops and produces robotic imaging medical devices for human and veterinary applications. The project has created diagnostic imaging tools that accurately visualise internal and external structures such as a 3D CAT scan, with the aim of making procedures safer and easier to perform. At the moment, however, the images rendered from these scans are several gigabits and today’s uplink channels are not sufficient for live remote diagnosis; Ericsson is working to improve mobile uplink connectivity and data compression to transfer images and perform remote analysis via the power of 5G. 

A mobile health clinic that is fitted with a range of digital tools and software is being used to tackle infectious diseases in London. The ‘Find and Treat’ van is part of NHS Digital’s Future Wireless Project Trials and has been deployed from University College London Hospitals (UCLH). It was recently fitted with an array of high-tech tools and software to enable real-time remote diagnosis and referrals on board the mobile health unit. The new technology includes a digital portable X-ray camera, artificial intelligence software, a teleradiology network to allow remote reading of X-rays using the trials flat-pack satellites, 4G and 5G routers, roaming SIM cards and smart antenna systems. The service aims to tackle a wide range of infectious and chronic diseases such as tuberculosis, Covid-19, Hepatitis B and C, HIV, cardiovascular issues, STIs and Flu.

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