The far-reaching impact of 5G, the latest generation of wireless communications technology, is only just arriving. With unprecedented potential, it promises to deliver a quantum leap in next-generation digital technologies and connectivity.
Healthcare is already witnessing a shift towards providing care beyond the walls of traditional hospital and clinic settings. 5G holds the power to transform numerous aspects of healthcare and is expected to revolutionize care delivery, from access to management.
The implementation of 5G technology holds great benefits for all stakeholders in the healthcare industry. Its application in telehealth, remote robotic surgery, home healthcare, hospital-at-home models and patient and asset tracking represents only a few potential use cases.
Healthcare is moving beyond the traditional brick-and-mortar setup. Telemedicine and remote monitoring became increasingly popular during the COVID-19 pandemic. 5G technology enables healthcare providers to monitor patients securely and accurately, offering real-time video consultations, remote vital sign monitoring and even remote surgery.
The future of healthcare will be transformed by the ‘tactile Internet,’ allowing doctors to perform procedures on patients remotely. This breakthrough will make specialized care more accessible, timely and affordable, promoting global health equity. Additionally, wearables powered by 5G technology will contribute to a larger vision known as the ‘Internet of the body.’ Faster 5G networks enable video demonstrations of surgical techniques and live broadcasts of operations.
To encourage healthcare organizations to invest in remote telehealth technologies, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) has made it easier for eligible providers to receive reimbursement. In addition to improving access to care and a competitive edge, this can reduce the burden on healthcare facilities, especially for those in rural or remote areas.
The introduction of 5G technology brings us closer to realizing the vision of smart hospitals. By leveraging 5G networks, we can expect a range of advancements including:
- Bed occupancy monitors
- Patient and device trackers
- Streamlined operational orchestration
- Seamless connectivity between ambulances and hospitals
- Enhanced digital workplaces for healthcare workers
These developments have the potential to significantly boost operational efficiency in healthcare settings.
Healthcare payers are constantly seeking ways to mitigate healthcare costs and improve patient outcomes. Remote monitoring has emerged as a key strategy for reducing expensive acute care visits and ensuring the health of chronic patients.
With the advent of 5G-networked wearables, healthcare payers – whether private insurance companies or government agencies – stand to benefit significantly. Some health plans and employers already offer monitoring devices to policyholders and employees to promote better health outcomes and cost savings. Given the push for more cost-effective alternate care settings, 5G is a powerful technology that can significantly enhance healthcare management.
The integration of 5G infrastructure and connectivity into decentralized and hybrid clinical trials has already made an impact. As real-world evidence and patient-generated data continue to gain acceptance, 5G is poised to accelerate adoption and revolutionize the possibilities. Through reduced time and cost of trials, 5G facilitates better drug pipelines and improved clinical trial participation experiences.
In the pharmaceutical industry, Industry 4.0 promotes automation in production, refined supply chain logistics and quality management. However, in environments like highly regulated production sites, ultra-sophisticated labs and unique supply chain scenarios such as CAR-T cell therapy delivery, connectivity challenges can arise. 5G, together with IoT, data science, cloud computing and mixed reality solutions, is emerging as one of the primary facilitators of Industry 4.0 success.
Overcoming systemic hurdles
While 5G holds tremendous potential for advancing healthcare, several challenges persist on the path to adoption. Some of these challenges are:
- The cost of adoption is still relatively high, though it is getting better with wider adoption
- Data security and privacy concerns are yet to be fully addressed
- Organizational change management issues, particularly those associated with remote or home healthcare delivery, present challenges to newer care delivery models, indirectly impeding 5G adoption
- Regulatory hurdles continue to hinder cross-border care access and delivery
- Truly digitalized workflows in the healthcare spectrum are precursors to a more effective 5G adoption
It's crucial to recognize that 5G technology cannot thrive on its own. It relies on the integration of cloud computing, IoT and cybersecurity to maximize its adoption and potential in various industries.
Despite the challenges and hurdles faced, 5G networks offer substantial opportunities for enhancing efficiency and outcomes across the entire life sciences and healthcare ecosystem.
The importance of finding the right technology partner
According to Precedence Research, the global market size of 5G in healthcare will reach around $64 billion in 2023. In North America alone, it will reach more than $23 billion by 2030. This goes to show the significant benefits envisioned for 5G that is fueling adoption in healthcare.
Implementing the 5G platform is just the initial phase in unleashing its transformative potential in life sciences and healthcare. To fully harness the power of 5G across the healthcare value chain, an organization will require vision, careful planning, investment and execution. Selecting the right partner to collaborate on the comprehensive implementation process is a critical decision. It becomes even more vital considering that 5G adoption necessitates the simultaneous integration of other digital technologies, such as cloud computing, cybersecurity, IoT and data sciences to realize its complete benefits and possibilities.
5G serves as a catalyst for digital transformation across every industry, and life sciences and healthcare is no exception. In fact, the potential for disruption is even greater in this complex industry. With vast experience in implementing diverse and robust solutions while prioritizing business outcomes, HCLTech possesses all the necessary capabilities to help enterprises realize the transformative power of 5G. Whether it's navigating complex technology environments or developing comprehensive solutions, HCLTech is up to the task of bringing 5G to life.
Is your organization ready to capitalize on the potential of 5G?