19th Apr 2022
The COVID-19 pandemic has presented the healthcare sector with unprecedented challenges when it comes to treating patients. By digitizing hospitals and expanding remote solutions, however, medical workers can meet their patient’s needs more efficiently while reducing their own workloads. Networks with superior infrastructure are required to operate such large scale digital deployments. In this regard, 5G is an ideal solution.
Due to its high bandwidth and minimal latency, 5G networks have the potential to fuel the development of state-of-the-art medical technologies that will enable health practitioners to act more quickly, accurately, and efficiently than was previously possible. Let’s take a look at the potential medical use cases of 5G as well as some of the top 5G stocks that are already transforming the healthcare sector through innovation.
The 5G Edge
When observing technological innovation in healthcare, it’s important to understand why 5G provides the best platform from which to launch new solutions. This will also enable you to determine whether or not you would like to invest in 5g stocks.
5G is capable of downloading data at more speeds of more than 1 gigabyte per second (gbps), while achieving average speeds between 200 and 400 megabytes per second (mbps). 4G, the network that directly preceded 5G, exhibits a top speed of around 200 mbps and average speeds around 25 mbps1. The significantly higher 5G speeds allow such networks to operate larger and more sophisticated systems.
Another significant advantage of 5G is its latency, which refers to the response time of a device over a network. While 4G displayed a latency ranging from 30 to 50 milliseconds, 5G’s latency is under 10 milliseconds2. This superior latency is highly important for the healthcare sector, particularly when it comes to monitoring and treating patients.
Speeding up the pipeline
Due to the broad bandwidth offered by 5G networks, MRIs and other types of medical imagery can be shared with specialists at a faster rate than was previously possible. This is particularly important since equipment such as the PET scanner at the Austin Cancer Center processes files up to the size of one gigabyte each.
According to CIO of Austin Cancer Center Jason Lindgren, the facility were previously forced to resort to sending such files after work hours, due to insufficient network capabilities during regular work hours. Using 5G, such files could reach specialists quicker, thereby enabling them to conduct more timely reviews and recommendations3.
Healthcare beyond the clinic
It’s important to remember that not all aspects of healthcare take place within the confines of a medical center. In some cases, healthcare professionals may need to remotely monitor patients in order to provide them with top preventative care. The prospect of manufacturing remote monitoring devices poses a lucrative business opportunity for some of the best 5G stocks with the vision to tap into the healthcare market.
At the forefront of remote monitoring are wearable devices. According to 42 percent of cross-industry experts, 5G is expected to boost the battery life of such devices, thereby improving their ability to consistently monitor patients4. Another reason why wearables are so important is because, according to Anthem, 86% of doctors claim that wearable devices increase patient involvement in their own health monitoring.
Delving into telemedicine
With rising demand for medical care in rural areas and an increasingly remote world, telemedicine is projected to grow at a compound growth rate of 6.5% from 2017 to 20235. In order to expand the use of telemedicine, however, a network that is capable of supporting real-time video conferencing and customer relationship management is necessary.
Using 5G, healthcare providers will have the platform to provide remote appointments to rural patients regardless of geographical distance. Furthermore, this reliable wireless network will enable users to abandon wired networks, thereby increasing accessibility for impoverished patients who do not have the funds for additional hardware.
Entering the virtual space
5G-supported virtual reality (VR) technology has an array of potential applications in the healthcare industry. Firstly, VR can enable doctors and medical students alike to simulate operations, thereby providing them with a risk-free space to test and improve their abilities.
VR can also play a role in authentic treatments, for example, virtual reality therapy. This solution immerses patients in an environment of their choice, thereby facilitating their recovery from chronic pain and injuries. With this solution already being deployed at numerous hospitals, research has proven that VR therapy reduces chronic pain by 25 percent6.
Due to high latency in existing wireless networks, VR therapy technology is currently limited in its capabilities, with devices remaining wired to a computer. With 5G, however, VR devices will be able to operate in a wireless capacity, untapping the full potential of this technology.
5G in action
Imaginalis, a company that develops robotic imaging medical devices, has partnered with Ericsson and laser device developer El.en. to create more accurate and less costly surgical devices. By tapping into Ericsson’s 5G capabilities, Imaginalis is advancing its efforts to remote diagnosis with quicker image transfer speeds. The company is also focused on developing a 3D CAT scan which will operate over 5G networks7.
El.en. is leveraging 5G technology in an effort to develop lasers that will perform surgeries with minimal invasiveness. Furthermore, 5G will enable the development of robotic assisted laser surgery, whereby doctors will receive the assistance they need in order to perform surgeries with greater precision and less manual involvement8.
The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) Puget Sound Health Care System in Seattle is using AT&T’s 5G network to pilot a range of healthcare devices that are currently in development9.
This includes VR technologies for training purposes, remote pain management through VR, near real-time surgical assistance using augmented reality (AR), and mobile-to-mobile connectivity, which enables the tracking of patients and medical devices. AT&T further revealed that it plans to deploy 5G millimeter wave spectrum at the facility, a move that’s expected to further boost network speeds10.
The demand surge
As the 5G network roll out continues, deployments in the healthcare sector are expected to rise. With the 5G healthcare market currently estimated to be worth $215 million, the value of this market is expected to surge to $3,667 million by 202611. When considering which 5G stocks to buy, projections indicate that those involved in the healthcare sector may have an increasingly important role to play.
1 “5G In Healthcare: Boosting Remote Brain Surgeries, Connected Health, Or Medical VR”, 23 December 2021, https://medicalfuturist.com/5g-in-healthcare-boosting-telehealth-vr-connected-health/
2 “5G in healthcare: How the new wireless standard can connect a post-COVID healthcare ecosystem”, Accessed 06 January 2022, PWC, https://www.pwc.com/gx/en/industries/tmt/5g/pwc-5g-in-healthcare.pdf
3 “5G In Healthcare: Boosting Remote Brain Surgeries, Connected Health, Or Medical VR”, 23 December 2021, https://medicalfuturist.com/5g-in-healthcare-boosting-telehealth-vr-connected-health/
4 “5G Healthcare How will 5g affect healthcare?”, Accessed 06 January 2022, Ericsson, https://www.ericsson.com/en/reports-and-papers/5g-healthcare
5 “5 ways 5G will transform healthcare”, Accessed 06 January 2022, AT&T, https://www.business.att.com/learn/updates/how-5g-will-transform-the-healthcare-industry.html
6 “How 5G Will Support the Healthcare Industry”, Accessed 06 January 2022, Samsung, https://image-us.samsung.com/SamsungUS/samsungbusiness/pdfs/Samsung_WhitePaper_5GHealthcare_12_18_18.pdf
7 “Transforming healthcare with 5G,” Accessed 27 January, 2022, Ericsson, https://www.ericsson.com/en/cases/2016/5gtuscany/transforming-healthcare-with-5g
8 “Transforming healthcare with 5G”, Accessed 06 January 2022. Ericsson, https://www.ericsson.com/en/cases/2016/5gtuscany/transforming-healthcare-with-5g
9 “AT&T to pilot 5G for healthcare with U.S. Veterans Affairs,” Bevin Fletcher Feb 2, 2021. https://www.fiercewireless.com/5g/at-t-to-pilot-5g-for-healthcare-u-s-veterans-affairs
10 “AT&T and U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs Will Test 5G-Powered Healthcare Innovations”, February 02 2021, AT&T, https://about.att.com/story/2021/att_va_5g_healthcare_innovations.html
11 “Global 5G in Healthcare Market Report 2021-2026 – Rising Adoption of 5G-enabled Wearable Medical Devices for Real-Time Remote Patient Monitoring”, October 21 2021, https://www.globenewswire.com/news-release/2021/10/21/2318034/28124/en/Global-5G-in-Healthcare-Market-Report-2021-2026-Rising-Adoption-of-5G-enabled-Wearable-Medical-Devices-for-Real-Time-Remote-Patient-Monitoring.html