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In another UK first, BT and University Hospitals Birmingham NHS Foundation Trust (UHB) are demonstrating scenarios where 5G virtual and augmented reality, together with robotic technology can significantly improve the healthcare sector.

5G allows clinicians to remotely assess and diagnose a patient, view medical records, vital signs and ultrasounds

Remote-controlled ultrasound and connected ambulances, all made possible through hosting over the 5G network, were trialled at the Medical Devices Testing and Evaluation Centre (MD-TEC) in UHB’s prestigious simulation lab.

5G can combine human intelligence with AI

The technology behind the 5G connected ambulance can be combined with clinical expertise to enable remote diagnostics and link field practitioners with surgeons or consultants in ‘real time’.

This allows clinicians to remotely assess and diagnose a patient, view medical records, vital signs and ultrasounds.

How do connected ambulances work?

Wearing a specially equipped VR headset, the clinician is able to visualise exactly what the paramedic sees in the ambulance. Using a joystick, they are then able to remotely direct the paramedic in real time to perform any necessary scans, as well as get close-up footage of the wounds and injuries of a patient.

The clinician does this by speaking to the paramedic to look in a particular direction, or, in the case of a scan, sends control signals over the live 5G network to a robotic or ‘haptic’ glove worn by the paramedic.

The glove creates small vibrations that direct the paramedic’s hand to where the clinician wants the ultrasound sensor to be moved. This allows the clinician to remotely control the sensor position, while seeing the images in real-time.

In addition, there is a camera in the ambulance that transmits a high definition view of the inside of the ambulance, paramedic and patient.

Together with live feeds of the patient’s ultrasound scan, the clinician is able to recognise vital signs and view medical records in real time via the VR headset, providing a truly immersive experience.

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