- The impending release of 5G wireless has organizations considering how they can leverage the technology. The ever-increasing number of connected medical devices leaves wireless networks strained, and the potential of 5G can help increase bandwidth for more devices.
5G is the fifth generation of wireless technology with speeds that could reach up to 20 Gbps, edging out the current 4G LTE which typically clocks in around 1 Gbps. This improvement over the current wireless broadband technology healthcare organizations are using can support bigger data sets and faster network connections.
Connected medical devices are not limited to mobile devices or wireless networks. Organizations need to balance network traffic among wired connections, wireless internet, and cellular connections. This allows organizations to prioritize traffic.
Access points should be broadcasting in 2.4 GHz and 5 GHz, as well as rebroadcasting AM frequency for pagers and cellular for mobile devices. Improving the bandwidth of cellular connections can gives clinicians and patients using smartphones better and faster connections. The more advanced 5G can also better serve telehealth clinicians and patients who are streaming video conferences or transmitting large data sets.
While 5G is not readily available to healthcare organizations yet, improvements have been made on the technology over the past year. The 5G market is expected to grow at a CAGR of 70 percent through 2025, according to Market Reports Center.
Report authors stated that the 5G wireless ecosystem is expected to grow soon because of the initiatives taken by national and regional governments along with network providers and wireless carriers.
The report predicted that large-scale commercial trials will increase by five times through 2021. Report authors also predicted that 5G will have a large impact on IoT devices, haptic internet, virtual reality, and robotics.
Healthcare organizations are eager to embrace IoT devices because they save money by keeping patients out of the hospital.
“If IoT devices can diagnose people in advance then that saves huge costs,” Taoglas Co-Founder and Co-CEO Dermot O’Shea told HITInfrastructure.com in a previous interview.. “We can see nothing but benefits from medical devices being connected. Working with medical device companies brings a much larger delta of savings and benefits than any other vertical.”
The benefits of 5G in healthcare has prompted vendors to collaborate and seek a standardized technology to improve device connectivity.
Earlier this year, Qualcomm, Ericsson, and AT&T announced plans to collaborate and conduct interoperability testing and over-the-air field trials based on the expected 5G New Radio (NR) specifications under development by the 3rd Generation Partnership Project (3GPP).
The partnership was formed in response to the demand for advanced wireless technology for enterprises seeking new revenue streams requiring mobile or remote data exchanges, such as telehealth and remote care.
Vendors and customers alike are seeking faster and more reliable cellular connections, but much testing still needs to be conducted before a standard technology can be deployed.
“The roadmap of 5G technologies is complex, and collaborations such as this are critical to ensuring timely deployment of 5G networks,” Qualcomm Technologies Executive Vice President and CTO Matt Grob said on the collaboration.
“The 3GPP-based trials we are planning with AT&T and Ericsson will help us accelerate integration of advanced 5G New Radio technologies in form-factor accurate devices, building upon our long history of 3G and 4G LTE leadership and paving the path to wide-scale 5G deployments.”
Healthcare IoT devices are valuable to organizations because of the insight and monitoring services they provide. However, the more devices are introduced into health IT infrastructures, the more robust and reliable the network needs to be. 5G research is important to healthcare entities because its success will allow them to embrace more IoT devices.