Report highlights 5G’s healthcare potential
Written by: Sam Fenwick | Published:
Credit: PublicDomainPictures/Pixabay

The Liverpool 5G Testbed and techUK have launched a joint report that highlights how 5G can support the transformation of future healthcare applications and services

The report draws on the experiences of the Liverpool 5G Testbed and makes six recommendations to Government on how best to realise 5G’s potential in health and social care:

  • Accelerate the deployment of 5G to the majority of the country, enabling UK consumers and businesses to take early advantage of the benefits.
  • Support the uptake of digital health tools to the general public by a) using government data and communication channels to promote the benefits of digital health tools and b) reviewing how the personal budgets programme could better support the uptake of personal digital technology.
  • Foster knowledge exchange between DCMS and the Department of Health and Social Care to embed knowledge, experience and expertise on the potential of 5G into NHSX – a newly formed organisation that is bringing together teams from the Department of Health and Social Care, NHS England and NHS Improvement to drive digital transformation.
  • Ensure that the new NHS England app allows the public to access data beyond that held in primary care – and promote the ability to do so.
  • Provide health and social care professionals in the community with 5G technology, particularly in rural areas with limited health and social care provision, where consumer options for getting online are also limited.
  • Ensure the NHS can capitalise on developments in AI, Genomics, 5G, and Blockchain technology.

It also discusses some of the potential healthcare applications for 5G including: enabling remote monitoring of patients via connected devices, remote surgery, and real-time remote guidance of paramedics at the scene of an emergency by clinicians.

The Liverpool 5G Health and Social Care Testbed is made up of a consortium of organisations, which is exploring how 5G technology can be used to reduce the digital divide while measuring the impact on patient monitoring and support, and the management of loneliness in older adults.

Some of the applications, devices and digital content created as part of the Liverpool 5G Health and Social Care Testbed include:

  • A pharmacy assistant that helps people take medication safely at home using a live video link to a qualified pharmacist
  • Safehouse Sensors that monitor falls and changes in the behaviour of vulnerable people
  • A digital loneliness device called ‘Push-to-Talk’, which connects people to chat by the push of a button and a social gaming app with quizzes, games and chat for people who are isolated

Sophie Weston, programme manager for communications infrastructure, techUK said: “Great digital connectivity is crucial for the UK and is essential to enable the adoption of enhanced technologies and applications that can help create a more open digital economy that works for everyone. The enhancement that 5G can bring to sectors such a manufacturing, logistics, transport, and healthcare will revolutionise our lives.

We should be looking forward to the opportunities that 5G can bring and the way that this technology can help with our health, within the hospital and at home. techUK is delighted to be collaborating with Liverpool 5G to highlight the importance of 5G technologies and applications within health and social care.”

Rosemary Kay, project director, Liverpool 5G Testbed said: “The innovative and transformative qualities of 5G can drive much needed changes to health and social care. 39 per cent of us will be over 65 by 2036, so more people are living with age related conditions like heart disease and there’s less money to treat them. In addition, by 2022 analogue services will disappear so we need to find reliable, affordable solutions to current telehealth services, by that date, if we’re to continue caring for everyone.

These are our priorities at Liverpool 5G health and Social Care, we have created 5G-supported apps and devices that help people with ongoing conditions to live independently at home for longer, without needing a hospital stay. 5G technology is faster, more robust, and supports more data than current options, making it perfect for supporting health devices that people rely on to stay well.”

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