As the effects of the ongoing pandemic continues to be felt nationwide, value-based healthcare delivery has become a top objective for hospitals. In a prior blog, I shared thoughts on the challenges in the healthcare industry and, more importantly, the role digital infrastructure can play in overcoming them and delivering the future of healthcare. 5G, as the new mobile technology, will power this new-age digital infrastructure to serve healthcare with smarter, secure and assured connectivity. While 5G is poised to improve healthcare outcomes in several ways, the two areas where the power of 5G will be most realized are in the interconnection of devices in hospitals and in delivering healthcare to patients – both inside hospitals and remotely.
Advanced Connectivity in Healthcare, from Caregivers to Patients
The underlying fiber and mobile communications network need to be highly secure and ultra-fast while delivering high-bandwidth connectivity for the estimated 120 million+ connected devices in hospitals today. As Internet of Things (IoT) is becoming core to patient care and healthcare delivery, both hospitals and caregivers need ubiquitous and secure mobile broadband connectivity.
Healthcare delivery, especially areas like telehealth and remote digital therapy, is poised to benefit immensely from 5G. Diagnostic equipment, patient monitoring & tracking, and medicinal drug tracking & tracing are some areas where healthcare outcomes are being affected by advanced connectivity already. Remote surgeries and digital therapy sessions are other areas where, like telehealth, the delivery of healthcare will be greatly enhanced by the 5G digital infrastructure.
The same 5G infrastructure that needs to be deployed within the hospitals is being deployed in urban, suburban and rural areas today to ensure that 5G network coverage is ubiquitous and ultimately accessible to everyone. 5G will be an important medium to bridge the digital divide, serve underserved areas, and ensure mobile connectivity everywhere, so that healthcare delivery is assured for everyone nationwide.
5G vs. WiFi in Healthcare
5G will not only change the ways caregivers and hospital staff do their daily jobs, it will change how patients are provided the best possible care. While WiFi enables connectivity – and we operate several WiFi networks today – there are known limitations to WiFi as compared to mobile connectivity. 5G deployed inside hospitals will deliver a higher quality of service and secured connectivity that WiFi cannot. Mobility is another attribute inherent to 5G, not WiFi. Imagine a telehealth session where the video consult session is interrupted or breached due to the quality, security or mobility limitations of Wi-Fi.
The communications infrastructure should be subliminal for the optimal delivery of healthcare and the way forward is 5G infrastructure designed and deployed inside the hospitals. The in-building network design, deployment and management remain key to deliver the true benefits of 5G. Building fiber to the edge, and closer to the users, are important components to ensuring low latency, faster data throughput, and higher reliability. In subsequent posts, I will elaborate on the importance of private networks and edge computing in connecting hospitals and ensuring the best possible patient care.
In closing today, I would like to emphasize that while healthcare delivery is prioritized, the digital infrastructure and 5G technology will immensely benefit healthcare. Clinical effectiveness, operational efficiencies and patient experience are all impacted by the new-age digital infrastructure. As a trusted advisor and partner, ExteNet works with the healthcare organizations (HCOs) to deliver the high-performance multi-carrier 5G network needed to best serve caregivers, hospital staff and patients. So, what should hospitals do to enable 5G? The work begins with a thorough network assessment led by an expert. Our business remains open during these unprecedented times and we are continuing to assist businesses and organizations with their 4G LTE, 5G and fiber networks.