5G & WiFi in healthcare: innovation for patients and doctors
The COVID-19 crisis has highlighted the importance of connectivity in the healthcare sector. Thanks to new technologies, such as 5G, it is possible to improve the patient experience, provide hospitals and doctors with detailed data and expand the possibilities for the healthcare sector. WiFi will also continue to play a major role, for day-to-day administration or for specific applications. In this article we will focus on some of the ways in which WiFi, and 5G in particular, can revolutionise healthcare.
RELIABLE REMOTE CARE
One of the prime uses of connectivity is remote care. Although its application is still limited, the COVID-19 crisis has shown that there is a real need for it. At the beginning of the pandemic, for example, many GPs were exceptionally consulting by telephone. However, this is not accurate and the lack of video can lead to wrong decisions being made. However, thanks to a stable WiFi connection and with the introduction of 5G, virtual consultations are much more personal and accurate. An example is dermatological diseases, where images can be crucial for a correct diagnosis. Virtual consultations can also be useful for patients who have difficulty moving around and for regular patient follow-up. There are various advantages for both the doctor and the patient. For example, it is no longer necessary for the doctor to visit certain patients at home. The patient also does not have to travel, thus saving time. Moreover, the risk of contagion is eliminated.
PROTECTING PATIENT PRIVACY
Privacy is of great importance in the healthcare sector. Every year, several healthcare institutions face cyber attacks, which can put patient data at risk. 5G has a higher level of security than 4G, making it a better choice for data transfer. Segmenting the network creates separate virtual networks, making it more difficult for those with malicious intent to access the overall system. Suspicious behaviour, for example an attempt to access a network that is not often used, is also easier to detect. Although cyber-attacks are becoming more sophisticated, the improved encryption of 5G networks resists malicious parties thanks to the strict authentication process of users on the network.
5G is inextricably linked to the Internet of Things (IoT). This technology makes it possible to exchange data collected in an ambulance with the hospital. Cameras, sensors and other measuring devices provide doctors and nursing staff with detailed information about the patient's condition. The hospital can then prepare itself even before the patient arrives. If MRI scans, CT scans and files from other machines have to be shared with another doctor, they can be sent quickly via 5G. Patients and staff then have to wait less time. Wearables, such as Fitbits and Apple Watches, are already well established. At present, wearables are not yet accurate enough in many cases to make independent diagnoses. This may change in the future, however. New technology in combination with 5G or WiFi can enable doctors in hospitals to call up data on a patient's state of health at any time, for example on blood sugar levels in diabetic patients, wherever they may be. Sigfox technology can also be used for this purpose, making it possible to transmit data over long distances.
TRAINING DOCTORS WORLDWIDE
In the hospital itself, 5G can also lead to better communication. In the case of complex operations, it is possible to stream images in real time and almost without latency in high definition to locations worldwide. In this way, patients and doctors can rely on the expertise of doctors worldwide, without distance being an obstacle. It is also possible to make healthcare available in areas that are less accessible. 5G can also open up a new world of training for doctors and healthcare staff. Through virtual exercises, for example, junior doctors can learn about operations and diagnosis. WiFi and 5G can also enhance the daily operations of the hospital. Technology such as Footfall AI can collect data on the number of staff, patients and visitors in one corridor, on one floor or in the entire hospital at any given time.
CONCLUSION: 5G AND WIFI OPEN UP NEW POSSIBILITIES
The use of 5G in healthcare is still only emerging. However, the applications offer a wide range of benefits, from accurate data in real time to increased cyber security. WiFi is already essential in hospitals and other healthcare facilities today and that's not going to change any time soon. With the right strategy, and a combination of WiFi, 5G and other technologies, forming a diagnosis and following up a patient will be easier, faster and more reliable.
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