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5G will revolutionise healthcare and emergency services

iStock / Getty Images Plus / metamorworks

Julian David

CEO, techUK

Better healthcare doesn’t just need more doctors, nurses and first responders, it needs to be equipped with 5G and instant data sharing capability, within hospitals and ambulances.

5G is here. All four mobile networks have now launched their 5G networks and the Government is pushing in the right direction to make sure the UK becomes a world leader in 5G technology, with several projects currently up and running to build capability and drive adoption.

5G, with its increased coverage, new data centres and technology upgrades, will bring major benefits to a range of sectors. However, its transformative impact in emergency services and the health and social care sector might be where it has the biggest, most positive impact on our lives.

The network upgrade will not only help healthcare staff remotely monitor patients, and provide a quicker, more consistent service for users – but there will also be major breakthroughs in areas such as remote and robotic surgeries.

Furthermore, these new networks could help us tackle the pressure on our social care system by enabling remote care and providing new services to reduce loneliness for those being cared for in their own homes.

5G infrastructure could enable service providers to manage more users more effectively.

The opportunities to deliver incredible results for this sector are boundless and below are just a few ways that 5G is already making in-roads in transforming it.

Reducing patient diagnosis and treatment times

Frontline staff members are directly involved with the public on a daily basis, whether that be crime fighting to hospital care or firefighting.

Upgrading their communication systems to the high-performance specifications of a 5G network will improve emergency service vehicle tracking and their ability to send real-time data (including video) while in transit.

This will massively support better interaction and sharing of data more readily with operation centers. For example, if an ambulance is 5G-enabled, critical data such as that from high-quality onboard ultrasounds and video can be streamed in real-time to A&E prior to the patient arriving, joining data collection and diagnosis.

This can save precious time in getting the right treatment for that patient as soon as they arrive on site.

Keeping personnel safe and reducing investigation time

Plans are also in place to use 5G networks to take live video streams from police body-worn cameras, or from drones, to gather evidence. For example, a 5G connected drone could stream real time high-definition video and thermal imaging to enable commanders to see and understand what is happening at crisis scenes or major incidents.

On-the-spot decisions, informed by those images, can help to reduce risks to the public and emergency services workers on the frontline.

Essex Police are already using smartphones to enable officers to work remotely, update crime systems, run checks on the national policing database, review live incidents, and liaise with partner agencies on-the-go.

Estimates show digital devices could save each officer up to one hour per shift, which will instead be spent investigating and preventing crime, supporting victims and allowing the front line to focus on citizens’ needs.

Upgrading these devices to run on 5G networks will enhance the quantity and quality of information that officers can capture and share – with very little delay.

Making a difference needs government support

The Government needs to help all sectors harness these technologies and support them to learn from proven use cases, such as the Liverpool 5G Testbed, which techUK has collaborated with and produced a report exploring how 5G can support the transformation of health and social care services.

Additionally, there will need to be support from Government in building the digital skills capability of emergency services staff who need appropriate training on how to use this new technology effectively and safely.

Government must continue to work with industry, including funding the 5G testbeds, to help grasp the potential opportunities of 5G.

techUK looks forward to helping these conversations happen and seeing the benefits of 5G being realised across consumers, society and UK plc.

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