9th Apr 2019
The fifth generation of cellular wireless technology is already here (partially), with Verizon’s October 2018 launch of a home broadband 5G service, AT&T’s introduction of a 5G network in a dozen cities across the USA in December 2018 and the imminent launch of Samsung’s Galaxy S10 with 5G capabilities.
While disruptive technologies have been identified as overall areas of strong potential growth over the next five years, 5G ETFs can potentially help stakeholders capitalize on 5G’s impact on the personalization and globalization of healthcare.
5G ETFs and Healthcare: new technologies, relationships and value chains
5G has the potential to connect billions of devices at unprecedented speeds via intelligent networks with extremely low latency. Advances in machine learning and quantum computing could also propel the computerization of communication. This may facilitate more services to be provided via the cloud and more processes to take place at the edge. This may result in saving power and further increasing speeds.
These innovations offer dramatic opportunities across the whole ecosystem of healthcare. From hospitals, medical technology companies and application developers, to insurance companies and regulatory bodies. Collaboration will be key, as all facets of the sector will need to develop strategic partnerships to promote innovation and open new value chains.
5G-enhanced healthcare envisages more choice, lower costs, greater patient comfort and better outcomes.
5G connectivity and power-saving abilities has the potential to enable affordable, practical, remote patient monitoring via wearable devices. These could be combined with secure online consultations to make geography irrelevant in choosing a healthcare provider. Hospitals could become international super-hubs of mass data collation, facilitating advanced research and more efficient, universal patient care. Some predict doctors could potentially morph into data scientists, with access to massive archives of collated individual statistics, as well as up-to-the minute information on their patient’s condition. In addition, the low latency and reliability of 5G networks could make widespread remote robotic surgery a realistic vision.
Barriers to 5G in healthcare can be summarized as technological or regulatory. Insurance companies and government bodies will need to adapt their policies to address contactless treatment and fewer inpatient cases. New medical devices will need to be approved as beneficial to health, while network providers will need to assure users of the security of mass personal data being transmitted over multiple pathways. The quality and personability of remote patient care could become a divisive social justice issue. For example, if the wealthy are able to afford face to face appointments and the less financially secure are denied the necessary human element. Awareness of these challenges and creative approaches to their resolution may smooth the way towards the future of 5G-enhanced healthcare, helping people live longer, healthier, more productive lives.