It’s a proven fact. Our health IT infrastructures are being strained as more bandwidth-intensive connected medical equipment and mobile devices are deployed in our hospitals. Something is going to have to give. Many communications executives regard 5G technology’s real-time high bandwidth and low latency access as significant new technology features that are required to improve the capabilities of healthcare applications and the functionality of medical equipment, robotics, and mobile devices.
5G is expected to be transformative, according to some. Others argue that it won’t be geographically transportable enough to meet carrier corporations’ lofty aspirations. And Outlier concerns that 5G could represent a health risk greater than advanced technologies are grumbling in the background. Here’s what you should be aware of;
What exactly is 5G? Here are the benefits and drawbacks of healthcare:
5G, the next (fifth) generation of cellular technology, will vastly improve wireless network speed, coverage, and responsiveness. Verizon’s network will support download speeds of up to 1 gigabit per second, which is 100 times faster than a standard cellular connection. Importantly, 5G’s low “latency” (the time between sending a data request to the network and getting the data) will cut lag time in half, from 20 milliseconds to as little as one millisecond.
Also, Read…How Close To A 5G Tower Is Dangerous?
This response may not appear striking, but it will be vital to the success of much innovative healthcare technology. Another advantage is that 5G networks will be able to link to far more devices than present cellular networks, enabling the Internet of Things (IoT) to go beyond dog collars to dishwashers, dental bitewings, and real-time remote surgeries.
Downsides of 5G in Healthcare:
1. First, let’s dispel the rumor that 5G’s higher radio frequencies pose health hazards (RF). Carriers have been fighting cellular skeptics for at least 20 years, dating back to Gen 1, yet the FDA continues to claim that the fears are unfounded. High levels of cell phone radiation on the complete body of rats were associated with some evidence of carcinogenic activity in 6% of the male rats in a recent National Toxicology Program research.
2. The study does not include network radiation. “The totality of the existing scientific evidence continues to not indicate significant health consequences in people caused by exposures at or below the current radiofrequency energy exposure limits,” Dr. Jeffrey Shuren, director of the FDA’s Department for Devices and Radiological Protection, remarked as follows: The National Institutes of Health, the National Cancer Society, the World Health Organization, the Federal Communications Commission, and a slew of other organizations concur.
The range of 5G is limited, especially when there are obstacles such as trees or buildings in the way. As a result, telecom carriers will deploy a large number of small cellular radios or antennae, known as small cells, that are about the size of a backpack, in places where 5G signals are available – as close as hundreds of feet apart. Typically, they are mounted on existing utility poles or streetlights. Small cells are currently being used in the telecom industry to enhance 3G, 4G, and LTE networks, but over 2 million are expected by 2021.
3. Despite reports to the contrary, some residents of urban areas such as Oakland, California, are already opposing these installations, many of which will be near residences, citing esthetic problems and fears that the small-cell antennas could transmit dangerous electromagnetic radiation. Local governments, on the other hand, are prohibited by the federal Telecommunications Act of 1996 from prohibiting their installation as long as the emissions are within the FCC’s acceptable standards. The Federal Communications Commission, in a 2018 rule, further limited localities’ power to govern 5G.
4. The costs of deploying 5G and related infrastructure upgrades, as well as increasing maintenance expenses, are a major worry, especially since it is reasonable to assume that customers will cover at least some of these costs. According to McKinsey & Company, mobile carriers are working on solutions to deal with rising network expenses. “Standard remedies will include cost-cutting efforts, but they will also need to investigate more alternative ways, such as network sharing (the collaborative construction of new 5G networks) and new income models.”
5. But rural access may be the most pressing issue: how will carriers deploy 5G to places like northern Arizona and southern New Mexico, where no G is still the norm? In the next five years, the FCC expects to cover 90% of the population with millions of tiny cells, but that coverage will only cover 36% of our territory – largely urban regions. PC Magazine submitted this map, which shows some of the city deployments that the various carriers have previously announced. At least 25 locations have been identified as early beneficiaries, according to CNN Business, although analysts do not expect comprehensive coverage until 2020.
6. What are the prospects for rural and small-town America, as well as the population that continues to be underserved by healthcare? So far, 5G’s multi-gigabit speeds and huge capacity appear to be mostly an urban phenomenon. Rural areas will receive “low-band” or “sub-6” 5G, which will have lower strength but reduced latency and will be capable of working with enormous networks of sensing devices. Low-band 5G can use existing towers and coverage areas, but its additional capacity is unlikely to match the speeds that the average home currently receives from 4G.
7. Based on my personal experience over the previous year, many rural locations such as northern Arizona, southern Utah, much of Wyoming, Idaho, Montana, Maine, and possibly many more still have little or no cellphone coverage. Scientists from nine nations, including the United States, determined in a 2016 research that only government subsidies would make 5G a viable solution for rural internet challenges.
8. Using the present 5G infrastructure technology, which relies on small cell antennas, getting huge bandwidth to rural America is nearly difficult. Hopefully, technical advancements will help to close the availability gap. For example, one or more 5G access points might serve a larger area via smaller base stations spread out across many miles, balancing coverage and speed at least for hospitals and other vital services.
5G’s expected benefits in healthcare include:
1. 1. Adding a high-speed 5G network to previous ideas would help transport massive data files of medical pictures such as MRIs and PET scans quickly and accurately. The PET scanner at the Austin Cancer Center produces massive files – up to 1 GB of data per patient per trial. Transmission can take a long time or possibly fail with low-capacity networks. As a result, patients would have to wait even longer for care, and clinicians will be able to see fewer people in the same amount of time.
2. Because 5G enables real-time high-quality mobile-based video, it will finally push telemedicine to the forefront of the healthcare Internet of Things. Patients will be treated sooner and have access to specialists outside of their locations, according to carriers, and doctors will be able to communicate more effectively. According to Industry Research Future, the telemedicine market is predicted to develop at a compound annual growth rate of 16.5% from 2017 to 2023, however, 5G will be required in both urban and rural locations. Patients’ demand for “anytime, anyplace” medication will continue to grow as network speeds improve. The current poor practicality of rural 5G, as stated above, is the stumbling block, although it should only be transitory.
3. Real-time remote health monitoring: Returning to the IoT sphere, healthcare practitioners will be able to monitor patients and collect vital data in real-time, resulting in better personalized and preventive care. According to Anthem, 86 percent of doctors believe wearables are already increasing patient engagement with their own health, and hospital expenses are expected to drop by 16 percent in the next five years. 42 percent of cross-industry decision-makers anticipate that 5G will allow devices to consume less power, which is critical in remote monitoring scenarios.
4. Artificial intelligence (AI) has a lot of potential for improving diagnostics, determining the best treatment options for specific patients, and predicting post-operative issues so that early interventions can be made if needed. The massive volumes of data required for real-time quick learning necessitate ultra-reliable, high-bandwidth networks, which 5G can provide.
5. In healthcare, augmented reality (AR), virtual reality (VR), and spatial computing have limited applicability. The ability of a doctor to give novel, less intrusive therapies is projected to improve with 5G. AT&T stated, “We are already partnering with VITAS® Healthcare to investigate the effects of future 5G-enabled AR and VR on patient involvement.” The goal is to provide pleasant, distracting leisure to terminal patients in hospice using 5G-enabled AR and VR to reduce pain and anxiety.”
6. Remote robotic surgery: Although robotic surgery is already a reality, the surgeon must still do the procedure while standing next to the robot. According to Ericsson, a major communications provider, nearly half of consumers believe remote robotic surgery would be okay for them, but 61% say such procedures are risky with present internet connections. The ability to connect surgeons to a remote robot doing remote surgeries will be enabled by 5G networks, which will provide 1-millisecond reaction latency.
7. And there’s more… Dr. Shafiq Rab, senior vice president, and chief information officer at Rush University Medical Center, said, “We strongly believe 5G is a game-changing technology that, when fully implemented, will help us support better hospital operations as well as provide the highest quality patient and staff experience.” “5G technology’s high-speed, low-latency capabilities will allow care to be delivered practically anywhere, at any time. The technology will improve access to care, especially for those who live far away, while simultaneously lowering costs and increasing efficiency. Imagine a doctor performing a virtual visit with a patient in the not-too-distant future while simultaneously downloading a whole MRI scan in seconds.”
Security Concerns with 5G and Healthcare:
Yes, 5G capabilities will aid in the speedier transfer of huge patient files, as well as remote surgeries, telemedicine, and remote patient monitoring via IoT devices, among other advancements. Nonetheless, security researchers are already detecting the increased data security risk that 5G-based developments in data storage and interchange, as well as increased IoT device usage, will bring.
Medical identity theft, invasion of health privacy, and medical data management will become more difficult as the number of devices grows exponentially, and virtualization and the cloud become more widely used, resulting in a bigger, more varied cyberattack surface. To reap the benefits of 5G that healthcare providers seek, security leaders and personnel will need to devote more time, technical complexity, and investment to their security programs than they have in the past.
The advancement of 5G is remarkable. It also symbolizes the rapid pace of technological progress in the United States in the twenty-first century, including (to a lesser extent) healthcare. We’re preparing our sector for the next cellular generation, which is likely to generate technological advancements in healthcare that we couldn’t have envisaged at the turn of the century. Although we may not achieve as much with 5G by 2020 as carriers promise — and rural healthcare advantages may take longer than we hope — the cellular infrastructure journey has begun. There is little question that it will accelerate.
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