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Human-centric 5G – the technology being harnessed to improve patient care

iStock / Getty Images Plus / Chalabala

Fotis Karonis

CTIO, Enterprise, BT

The launch of 5G and its potential for your industry might be difficult to fully comprehend. But 5G will soon boost our NHS and empower businesses to harness tech and help them move to the next level.

For the likes of Amazon, Uber and other platform, digital-first entities, 4G was the enabler for thriving within the smartphone revolution from 2012. Increased connectivity and the ability to purchase on-the-go enabled these well-equipped companies to surge ahead and establish enormous customer bases.

BT’s Chief Technology and Information Officer – Fotis Karonis – recalled his excitement at 4G’s launch during a conversation about how 5G’s 2019 launch might have similar revolutionary repercussions for business.

EE’s launch of 5G in May was initially focused on the UK’s four capital cities, plus Birmingham and Manchester, but has now been rolled out to 25 of the country’s largest towns and cities, with coverage set to expand further. ‘Hey, I have one more ‘G’ under my belt!’ He laughs.

But 5G is far more than just ‘one more G’. Karonis likened it to a fourth industrial revolution, enabling mobile technologies that can bridge divides between industries and take connectivity and efficiency to new levels.

But what does that actually mean in the real world?

Karonis was quick to offer tangible examples of where 5G will spark a digital transformation and make services we use every day more flexible and efficient.

How 5G can relieve the pressure in healthcare

The healthcare industry today is under immense strain from an ageing population, excessive A&E visits driving up average waiting times and underfunding but 5G could make a big difference. “5G can help to treat people – effectively – outside of hospital, by bringing clinical expertise closer to the patient,” says Karonis.

“This is where the technology comes into play, relieving pressure and providing mobile expertise and visibility to enable better decision-making that could save lives.”

Patients can – potentially – be treated at the site of injury

The advent of augmented reality (AR) and the increased plausibility of it through 5G will undoubtedly change ambulance services and have far reaching effects throughout other industries. It is, in essence, the ability to ‘see what I see’.

For instance, a paramedic may be the first person to treat a stab victim. Through AR glasses worn by the paramedic, a doctor will be able to remotely control what they see through the paramedic’s glasses and see in incredible detail how severe the wounds are and whether they are life threatening.

“This is a mission-critical application, that could have a huge positive effect throughout healthcare. Through this type of mobile technology, unnecessary referrals and A&E visits can be drastically reduced.”

Improving efficiency and supporting immersive training

AR and VR (virtual reality) are two clear examples of how a variety of businesses could get ahead and harness the power of 5G. Karonis gave the example of Belfast Harbour, where this technology has recently been utilised by engineers.

“We had a young engineer on an enormous crane, in a working shipyard wearing AR glasses. A senior engineer picked up that view, directed him and established where a serious fault lay from a remote destination.

“These types of collaborative capabilities are applicable across so many different industries,” he says.

The learning experience could also change dramatically through virtual reality, something Karonis sees having an impact similar to that of AR. “Immersive learning, enabling staff to learn in VR surroundings or ‘on the job’ will ensure staff education is faster and based in reality.”

How do businesses best prepare for these new capabilities?

“It’s all about team work – we are building the future of working in partnership with our customers.

“Partner with companies who are at the forefront of delivering 5G technology. But also, ask yourself as a business what that big problem is that 5G and these types of solutions could help you crack. We want to help businesses harness ‘human-centric 5G.’ They are the projects that we are excited to get involved with.”

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