The underlying message in all my articles that focus on the future of health is that healthcare can become more resilient, agile and innovative by shifting to digitally enabled business models with data at the core. There’s no doubt for practitioners that being able to access and utilise patient data in a timely manner will result in more efficient workflows as well as better patient health outcomes. The reduced latency and increased speed in which patients can share health information and practitioners access this data will be thanks to the 5g network.
5G has many promises and the transformation of healthcare delivery is one of them. The way this can be achieved is by providing essential levels of connectivity to enable a new health ecosystem – one that can meet patient and practitioner needs accurately, efficiently, conveniently, cost-effectively and at substantial scale.
Having said this, it’s also important to keep expectations in check as widespread implementation of 5G is still a while away with predictions of extensive deployments expected to occur by 2025 and mainly in developed countries. However, the COVID-19 pandemic has probably accelerated this timeline.
We talk about how 5G has the potential to create a new connected health ecosystem. But what does that mean? There is a relatively new concept known as 4P medicine/healthcare. This is the notion that 5G (along with supporting technologies) will shape healthcare to become more predictive, preventative, personalised and participatory. Let’s look at each ‘P’ in more detail.
Through greater connectivity, practitioners will be equipped with a constant flow of instantaneous patient data regarding their vital signs, lifestyle, sleep and fitness behaviours as well relevant alerts. As a result, the new health ecosystem will be better able to predict risks to patients and provide their practitioner with early warning signs as well as tracking information as a means of remote patient monitoring. Practitioners will be able to use these data insights to provide prompt and effective treatment interventions before their condition/symptoms worsen. Although 5G is not at the core of the predictive process itself, it will support the ubiquitous connectivity and scale of the ecosystem that collects, analyses and shares the data.
If you build an ecosystem that’s predictive, it allows practitioners to take preventative action. Intelligent data analytics methods and machine learning has made it possible to provide early disease detection and treatment. These technologies allow for patient management platforms, like HealthBank, to systematically use data and analytics to discover interesting patterns that are previously unknown and uncover the inefficiencies from vast data stores to build predictive models for best practices that provide better insights to practitioners and improve the quality of their treatment protocols and allow them to provide more personalised healthcare delivery.
When practitioners have access to constant real-time health monitoring, made more efficient through 5G networks, they can personalise their patient’s healthcare experience and their treatment. Due to COVID-19, we are already seeing a shift from clinic care to home care where patients can conveniently connect with their practitioner through telehealth via computer, tablet, or mobile device. The speed and widespread connectivity that 5G promises with the addition of increasing AI technologies will make for a transformative digital health experience for both patient and practitioner.
Through a 5G-enabled health ecosystem, patients will become less passive consumers of healthcare and more engaged participants in driving their own health outcomes. They will have greater access to and visibility over their personal health data, they will be more informed, and they will feel more empowered to take control of their health. If patients can take independent actions to manage their health, they will improve achieve better health outcomes, better quality of life and, at the same time, reduce overall costs and burdens in the healthcare system.
Although 5G is a contentious topic for some practitioners, the wide-spread role out of this network is inevitable. Therefore, practitioners should shift their focus to what positive health ecosystem can be created with the assistance of 5G.