We hear a lot about 5G technology, but for many of us, it’s link to our lives goes as far as our smartphones and mobile service providers. But to think that 5G technology is only valuable for making our data speeds faster is like saying that electricity is great because it allows us to read books before bed. Sure, both are favorable side effects, but the impacts of each invention are far more widespread than that.
A lot of industries have been disrupted by 5G technology — the video game sector, the agriculture industry, and even healthcare. In the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, the expansion of telehealth services and remote medical care was built upon existing technology, but the demand for safe, efficient practices continues to grow.
To meet expectations and further improve patient care, especially in centers like skilled nursing facilities, the widespread integration of 5G technology will be key. Here are some of the ways 5G is already set to change the healthcare industry.
1. Increased Potential of Remote Surgery
The possibility of remote surgery increases substantially with the integration of 5G technology. Due to the lag of up to two seconds between input and output, which could result in devastating errors in surgical suites, current 4G services cannot support tele-surgery or tele-presence, in which a surgeon can remotely watch a procedure and offer advice.
With 5G, the lag between devices could be reduced to just two milliseconds, resulting in higher accuracy and greater security for patients and providers alike. As such, remote surgery could provide more opportunities for high-quality care. For example, patients would be able to receive treatment from distant healthcare professionals rather than being limited to a pool of local physicians. The use of 5G will permit greater access to improved care and allow for more collaboration among industry professionals.
2. Improved Patient-Physician Communication
Strong relationships between healthcare staff and their patients are critical in the pursuit of optimal care. With the aid of 5G, communication between parties stands to improve dramatically. The applications of 5G in this regard are varied. One example is the combined use of artificial intelligence and interconnected sensors that can document and analyze interactions between patients and staff. The process of seeking solutions for better outcomes, as well as more personalized care, can be made more efficient and effective with the use of 5G. In other words: it can save lives.
The integration of 5G can also further increase access to skilled and specialized professionals. Through technology such as video chats, patients will have more options when seeking medical advice or treatment, resulting in more effective care regardless of geographical location thanks to the high-speed connections afforded by 5G.
3. Expanded Telemedicine and Real-Time Monitoring
The telemedicine industry is expected to continue its growth trajectory, especially as the demand for greater healthcare access in rural areas persists. In order to make telemedicine effective and efficient, especially when it is operating in lieu of in-person consultations, a fast and reliable network is imperative, making the integration of 5G essential. Even patients in isolated and/or rural areas could gain access to top healthcare providers without needing to wait extended periods of time or travel great distances.
Through the combined use of 5G and the Internet of Things, the healthcare industry can also improve data collection and analysis, especially in efforts to monitor patient conditions and provide personalized care. Wearable technology has increased patient engagement by upwards of 80 percent, and by capitalizing on data collected by wearables through the use of 5G connections, doctors can keep a more accurate record of their patients’ health in real-time.
Without 5G, wearables can still provide valuable information, but the data they collect may not be as readily available to healthcare providers due to slow speeds and inconsistent connectivity. By using 5G to access data collected by wearable technology, healthcare professionals can better care for their patients, especially those receiving treatment in places like skilled nursing facilities. In this case, remote monitoring through 5G can ensure patients are well even when they are not with their caretakers, providing an extra level of security, wellness, and peace of mind.
4. Accelerated Pathology Studies and Diagnostics
To improve diagnostic capabilities and pathology services, 5G can increase access to essential data and expedite the process of identifying and treating certain conditions. Near the start of the coronavirus pandemic, facilities in China utilized 5G to develop remote consultation, diagnosis, and treatment systems. By taking this initiative, medical professionals were able to create a singular network among front-line hospitals for the purpose of remote diagnosis and data collection, facilitating the rapid, real-time sharing of vital information as it related to the pandemic.
Moving forward, the use of 5G could mean expanded opportunities for collaborative insight and pathological studies by eliminating the need for long-distance travel and allowing medical professionals to access and discuss shared data simultaneously. By increasing the access of vital information, healthcare facilities can effectively accelerate developments and discoveries in areas like pathology and diagnostics through collaboration and remote consultations.
While 5G technology is not necessarily new, the potential for application in healthcare is exponential. Through 5G, as well as other technologies like AI and IoT, healthcare facilities can expand their treatment options through the increased potential of remote surgery and remote monitoring. Additionally, 5G promotes more accurate and up-to-date communication between healthcare staff members and patients, allowing for more personalized care. Skilled nursing facilities, as well as other specialized care centers, may be wise to identify areas in which they can benefit from 5G in order to improve the quality, efficiency, and individuality of their organizations.
At this time, 5G is not yet the network standard for this field, but the numerous advantages this technology offers to healthcare facilities, medical professionals, and patients point to these innovations as the future of patient care.
About Bent Philipson
Brent Philipson is the founder of Philosophy Care, a consulting firm providing a range of services to skilled nursing facilities throughout New York and New Jersey dedicated to providing each resident with individualized care. Under Bent Philipson’s leadership, Philosophy Care offers guidance to facilities on services including Alzheimer’s care, amputation therapy, wound care, tracheostomy care, physical therapy, occupational therapy, speech therapy, stroke recovery, palliative care, cardiac rehabilitation, IV therapy, and bariatric care.