As the Founder & CEO of Digital Health startup Immersive Rehab, 5G technology has been on my radar for a while as it has great potential in the healthcare and telemedicine sector.
Immersive Rehab’s physical & neuro-rehabilitation solution offers fully immersive high resolution Virtual Reality (VR) rehabilitation programmes that are highly dependent on low latency and fast data exchange to offer a good, reliable and stable experience for patients. Currently we achieve this by running our solution on site only from a powerful computer. This is great from a patient data protection perspective as we can store the data gathered locally, and patient data security is obviously critical for the use of our solution in a clinical setting. There are some drawbacks to this current setup for our solution however. Currently VR content streaming is still unstable and unreliable mainly due to latency and delay issues, which also makes multi-person interactive VR experiences across various sites hard to implement at this point. From a remote monitoring and telemedicine perspective, current data transmission and exchange delays between healthcare sites and between healthcare sites & patients’ homes limit the remote monitoring capabilities and telemedicine potential in general.
Tackling these latter issues is where 5G really could make a huge difference as the 5G technology offers much lower latency and much faster data transmission and reliable data exchange than currently feasible thereby enabling reliable VR content streaming, multi-person interactive VR experiences, and fast and reliable data transmission/exchange.
Pilot studies assessing the adoption and integration of 5G technology within health and social care services are currently being done in the UK and the Liverpool 5G Testbed & Trial for Health and Social Care for example is an important testing hub that is focused on supporting the introduction of Internet of Things (IoT) technology into Home Care services. The Liverpool 5G Trial is also investigating any additional benefits that the provision of 5G services at a lower cost or even at no cost to areas that are digitally deprived, i.e. where people do not have internet access, could bring.
I am optimistic about the future of remote monitoring and telemedicine with 5G coming to the data exchange and data transmission networks. Digital Health in my opinion is very much an opportunity to bring health & care services to everyone in need, so with 5G being implemented I hope we will be able to speed up that process and offer people the options in health & care services they deserve. And as with anything within health and social care services, collaboration between all stakeholders is key to implement these new technologies in such a way that it improves patient outcomes and delivers more effective health and care services to everyone.