The Impact of 5G on Healthcare

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Publication Date:
November 2019
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Health insurance: how to thrive in an increasingly digital health world

5G wireless network technology has the potential to revolutionize pharma's business. Combined with advances in artificial intelligence and machine learning, 5G can collect and analyze big data faster and more efficiently, drive real-time insights from connected wearable devices and reveal patient insights for the delivery of personalized digital services. Employing 5G will come at a cost, so which strategies and approaches will deliver the best ROI for pharma?

In The Impact of 5G on Healthcare we interviewed telecommunications experts to explore the true value of 5G networks in healthcare and to provide a deeper understanding of how pharma can reach an advanced technological level where the industry can take full advantage. This is no time for a "wait and see" policy as the first mover competitive advantages will be considerable.

Experts explore 5G challenges and opportunities

  • What future opportunities in telemedicine can pharma capitalize on by means of 5G networks and in what ways will patients benefit?
  • How should pharma companies utilize 5G networks to maximize opportunities for data sharing and analysis?
  • In a world of 5G networks, what kind of medical wearables should pharma aim to develop and what other health technologies could deliver innovative treatments?
  • What are the technological requisites that pharma must comply with to supplement collaboration with network operators in adopting 5G?
  • How can pharma companies best prepare now for the proliferation of 5G networks?

What our experts say…

"There are several ways that 5G will be available for organisations to use, but maybe only two that should be looked at in the context of data collection, patient interaction, and doctor/consultant/hospital interaction. First, current mobile operators of 5G networks offer end-to-end connectivity and will increasingly offer services, such as massive device connectivity along with network slicing. Second, private 5G networks are being considered and trialled within the industrial sector, bringing 5G into the factory. These are showing promise in being able to offer a connectivity layer, such as IoT for data collection and high-speed video for AR/VR [augmented reality/virtual reality] inspection. They offer the benefit that the control and management of the network is within the factory, not impacted by consumer traffic, and can offer enhanced security. Private 5G networks could well factor in future hospitals, managing all the connectivity needed. For pharma, they should consider patient access in the larger world, using mobile operator 5G/4G networks, and then patient access inside a building such as a hospital, using the hospital's own private network and of course in the home where 4G has not been that good so far. In both cases, pharma companies will need to discuss with operators how they connect to 5G; do they have their own 5G network slice for patient interaction (for example, massive device connectivity or video for interviews)? This may require the pharma company to work with well-known Systems Integrators who have the technical and business knowledge necessary to design, build, and operate the systems."
Peter Curnow-Ford, Viatec Associates

"There are also low power sensors, especially the digestible readable sensors, where you can gather data from your stomach and transfer that data wirelessly to another device. Collecting that kind of data helps generate real-time information about what is wrong with your health, rather than doing things the old way, and hard way, by collecting the data first and then analysing it much later. Real-time data also helps with patients' own awareness of what is happening to them, what they can do to prevent disease, or what can be done to improve their health. Prevention is one of the key capabilities that these new technologies offer."
Pasi Kemppainen, Epista Life Science

"One challenge pharma companies must overcome is misconceptions about the technology. Some critics are sceptical not necessarily about 5G itself, but about the connected environments it enables. It is true that connected devices such as TVs, thermostats, wearables and internal sensors come with some hacking risks. However, most security researchers agree that the benefits of the Internet of Things (IoT) and connected devices far outweigh the risks, especially with implanted medical devices that can provide more effective and personalized care. Nevertheless, as device manufacturers build on 5G, companies should continue to enhance security in their devices so the benefits can be reaped. IoT with 5G devices allows for better in-home monitoring for tracking medication adherence, responding to falls, and facial and emotion recognition to predict when someone is in pain."
Andrew Grojean, InTouch Solutions

Case studies included in the report

  • 5G testbed and trial demonstrates how patients can be connected to other stakeholders (Liverpool Sensor City)
  • A Chicago-based hospital working with AT&T to make it a "5G hospital"
  • Edge computing in 5G technology
  • Connecting two hospitals in a 5G network

Is this the future of 5G for pharma?

Imagine this. Through network slicing, pharma can provide personalized services to patients while creating a healthcare delivery ecosystem where prescriptions, mobile apps, healthcare providers, health authorities and other stakeholders are connected to the patient. Essentially, 5G networks will facilitate a well-connected telemedicine landscape and, subject to appropriate regulatory and privacy measures, create an integrated system where pharma directly converses with patients on a mass scale.

What to expect

  • A detailed report examining the opportunities and challenges presented by 5G wireless network technologies and the strategies and approaches pharma must consider now
  • An examination of 6 key issues that pharma and developers needs to understand and respond to
  • 15 targeted questions put to the experts
  • Their perceptive responses that provided 42 insights supported by 34 directly quoted comments

Expert contributors

The report harnesses critical insights and opinions from industry experts who:

  • Have expertise in the field of digital transformation, digital device connectivity, digital healthcare, or telecommunications technology
  • Benefit from over 5 years' experience in fields relating to telecommunications technology
  • Have responsibility for conceptualising, developing and shaping strategies and initiatives for improved patient care through technological connectivity and rapid data transmission
  • Bring direct experience of assessing the impact of networks on business performance, exploring the potential game-changing impact of novel connectivity measures and assessing the speeds, bandwidths and interconnectivity of digital tools and innovative technologies in healthcare, either as part of a committee or as the lead decision-maker, in the last 12 months

Contributors to the report

  • Peter Curnow-Ford has 30+ years' experience in global telecoms and IT. He founded Viatec Associates in 2002 to assist organisation with decision making in the cellular, fibre, satellite and wireless infrastructure and device space, on investment, key operational and technology trends and thought leadership on wireless landscape, 4G and 5G Commercial Strategy, deployment, spectrum use and acquisition, tower (cell site) development and funding, public safety, handsets, transport connectivity and cellular backhaul including small-cell strategies and mmWave. He holds non-executive roles in SMEs, including Dahl Mobile AB and ProtectMe Ltd. Curnow-Ford is a board member for the UK Fibre Connectivity forum, a Senior 5G advisor and a Steering Board Advisor at the UK Spectrum Policy Forum.
  • Andrew Grojean is the Senior Manager of Innovation at InTouch Solutions, an independent, full-service agency that offers innovative solutions to life science companies that want to connect with consumers, healthcare professionals and payers. As part of his role, Grojean helps develop artificial intelligence, social media and other disruptive technologies for healthcare marketing. He has multiple awards in social media and medical marketing.
  • Pasi Kemppainen is the Principal Advisor for Epista Life Science, a company that provides compliance consulting and advisory services within the life science industry. As part of his role, he provides pharma digitalisation strategic advice. With over 20 years' experience in digital technology and a career including several roles in senior technical, management and executive positions within multinational companies, including global pharmaceutical and telecommunications industries. He is an expert in pharma digitalisation, mobile technologies and the internet of things.

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