Significant Expansion of 5G Networks Could be the Catalyst Towards Smart Hospitals

FEB 24, 2022

February 24, 2022 — Imagine that you are admitted to hospital. A smart scheduling system ensures you have a bed; you sign in with your doctor using facial recognition or a fingerprint scanner; thanks to an efficient digital system, your doctor instantly pulls files with all your medical history; and once a treatment is decided, the prescription is automatically delivered to your bedside—all of this with full transparency, from scheduling to diagnosis, prescription and payment. This describes some of the capabilities of the ‘smart hospital’ concept, and it is something that—according to GlobalData—could be here sooner than you think. However, the leading data and analytics company notes that it will need significant investment to become a reality.

Jacob Fletcher, Medical Device Analyst at GlobalData, commented: “We are at the precipice of a huge development in patient care, with the first smart hospital already announced last year in Southeast Asia. To keep pace, governments in the US and Europe need to increase investment in 5G networks, as these will be essential to meet the high network demands.”

While 5G networks have made progress in the US since initial launches in 2018, global rollouts are still at a relatively early stage. GlobalData expects significant expansion over the next two years, driven by increased consumer uptake of 5G-compatible mobile devices and commercial applications.

Fletcher continued: “Increased digitization within hospitals will raise network demands as systems keep up with the high volumes of data being exchanged. Data collection already occurs extensively in hospitals, but sources are not always integrated with one another which can create inefficiencies and delays in care. The smart hospital concept promotes crosstalk between medical devices, electronic health record systems, patient monitoring devices and more. The end result is an improved patient experience and clinical outcome.”

5G networks can deliver the high-speed and ultra-low latency data connections needed to make smart hospitals a reality, and GlobalData notes the need for 5G infrastructure.

Fletcher added: “Large infrastructure investments will be needed from both healthcare providers and telecom operators to bring smart hospitals from concept to reality. Medical device manufacturers will also need to incorporate 5G connectivity into their products to ensure integration is possible. Further, as more devices become interconnected, a greater emphasis will need to be placed on cybersecurity to ensure that patient data is secure and hospital services are protected.”

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