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The Impact of 5G and Other Technologies in Healthcare

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The Spanish healthcare system, both the public and private sectors, focuses on healing diseases and hospital care rather than questions such as prevention and primary care. This reality, coupled with its low digital maturity, makes it incapable of handling challenges like the one we currently experience in an effective way.

When talking about healthcare, the user experience becomes people’s quality of life, so improving the ratio of that experience is the big challenge that today’s health system faces. To achieve this, it must be able to offer a comprehensive and individualised view of each patient, something that depends to a large extent on the availability of clinical information systems and reliable and connected medical devices as part of an ecosystem that transcends traditional specialties and services.

Just as addressing the different phases of a chronic disease requires the intervention of multidisciplinary teams, in order to overcome the challenges of today's health system it is necessary to incorporate the capabilities that sectors such as technology can provide. Although it is necessary to always bear in mind that technology is not the answer, but an instrument that can help with realising the necessary digital transformation.

Data as a Strategic Differentiator 

According to Juan Abarca, president of HM Hospitals, "the difference between the 20th and 21st century healthcare is data. The qualitative leap that is obtained from the processing and management of clinical data is very important and acts as a differential for faster, higher quality care”.

Placing the patient in the very centre of healthcare, offering personalised, preventive, predictive and participatory treatment will only be possible through the comprehensive management of personal data and the processing of anonymised aggregated data.

With this new model hospitals become large data processing centres. This is not to say that hospitals as we know them are now going to disappear, but that the hospitals of the future will have large technological and data management infrastructures, since data management will be one of their most relevant functions in the treatment of patients increasingly geographically distributed and with different needs.

The Technology Around The 5G Networks

It is not just about digitising the existing, it has to do with harnessing the confluence of different technologies to achieve a real transformation that is capable of pushing the boundaries of reality as we know it today. This will enable solutions that bring healthcare to people everywhere at any time.

To use a technological terminology, we could say that everywhere is synonymous with mobility and any time with availability. Therefore, we would be talking about mobile networks with high availability. Add to that the high volumes of transmitted data and low latency, we could be talking about real-time applications in the field of healthcare.

It is clearly at this point that 5G networks will be able to provide solutions and applications in the technological field that help to meet the main challenges of healthcare, such as chronical diseases, geographical dispersion, and time management, among others. 5G networks will also become the cornerstone on which to transform the entire patient experience, whether at the level of medical follow-up, connectivity, monitoring or even preventive and predictive medicine, looking further ahead to detect future diseases.

The 5G networks will be able, for example, to transmit a patient's medical history, obtained through connected devices (IoMTs – Internet of Medical Things) or wearables to data collection and storage systems. Such information will be managed in real time with artificial intelligence, to generate and feed back to patients, family and doctors the alarms, changes in treatment, urgent shipment of medicines using drones, activation of ambulances, etc. All this in real time and always considering the place where the patient is located, by employing geolocation tools.

Another of the best-known applications of 5G networks and their basic features of high-volume data flows and low latency is the realisation of remote surgery or video chats between professionals. It will even be possible to access the patient's medical state through advanced visualisation systems (Augmented Reality/Virtual Reality/Digital Twins), sharing such information with any location, and always in real time.

One of the main concerns of medical teams is the availability of quality information about the patient's condition, to avoid having to work with biased, incomplete, or subjective information. This is where the virtuous circle of 5G networks in conjunction with connected medical devices (IoMTs), the cloud and artificial intelligence will make treatments much more effective and personalised for each patient, based on individualised medical data and with the help of aggregated and anonymised medical data.

The Role of Cybersecurity

Undoubtedly, an essential pillar in the management of data and technology in the healthcare field is cybersecurity at all levels, which includes the organisation, the services offered, data access, connected medical devices, the sharing of results, customer platforms and training, etc.

The 5G networks and cloud systems are already adopting high cybersecurity standards among their basic features in order to protect the ever-increasing volume of information and data circulating through their nodes.

Maintaining the security of patients' medical data is paramount, especially in an area where people's lives can be put at risk.

Alfonso Mora

Service Manager at Blue Telecom Consulting - BlueTC ®

 


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Alfonso has in-depth knowledge of the technology industry from network equipment and IT system vendors and telecoms operators. He has specialised in managing programs, operations and service teams in telecoms and IT, as well as in digital transformation projects. He thrives in customer facing roles where he can draw on his more than 20 years of experience. Alfonso holds an Executive MBA from IEDE and has gone through the Executive Program for Digital Transformation Managers at Instituto Empresa, both Spain.

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Guest 12 Apr 2021

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