5G Ushered Huge Advances in Healthcare Technology. What will 6G Offer?

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The following is a guest article by John English, Director of Service Provider Marketing and Business Development at NETSCOUT

Amidst the COVID-19 crisis, medical technology became essential for keeping healthcare running when other industries had to close.

Cellular network technology, particularly 5G, has been a critical enabler in running medical services during and after the pandemic. To prepare for the inevitably increased digital demands ahead, hospital and health system administrators are assessing private 5G networks. With download and upload speeds faster than 4G, 5G-backed medical technologies have supported significant advancements, such as the facilitation of real-time telemedicine (remote video consultations with doctors), remote surgeries, and AI-assisted diagnostics, which help with the early detection of disease and offer more precise diagnoses. 

With these improved efficiencies, medical professionals have more time to focus on essential tasks, ultimately improving patient care quality. Additionally, the increased efficacy and timeliness of treatments can potentially save many lives.

Real-World Integration of 5G Technology 

Healthcare organizations like the Mayo Clinic in Minnesota have leveraged the capabilities of 5G, enabling better use of technologies already in place in most hospitals, like EHR systems and patient portals, telemedicine platforms, and robotics, which are employed in areas such as medication delivery, disinfection, surgery, and care support.

Another great example of how 5G is connecting new technologies is at the Cleveland Clinic in Ohio. Last year, they deployed private 5G networks in their hospitals to increase caregiver connectivity and enhance the overall experience for patients and visitors. As a result, the improved high-bandwidth 5G network in their healthcare facilities has enabled real-time remote diagnosis and referrals while also allowing specialists to provide expert guidance regardless of geographical distance. 

As more organizations adopt 5G and beyond, patients can expect quicker, more accurate remote diagnoses, and as genomic data is introduced and shared over these networks, even more personalized care recommendations.

The Latest Wave in Cellular Network Technology

The medical advancements enabled by 5G technology have laid the groundwork for those that could be brought about by 6G, which could promise even more transformative potential in enhancing healthcare through technology.

With healthcare services facing increasing strain, leveraging 6G alongside AI to digitize tasks like medication prescribing could offer much-needed relief for overwhelmed healthcare professionals.

This technology will liberate valuable staff time, recognized as the healthcare sector’s most crucial asset, particularly amidst prolonged staff scarcities.

Enhanced Medical Care and Efficient Communication with 6G 

6G radio frequencies will operate at higher levels compared to 5G radio frequencies. The higher you go up in radio frequencies the shorter the coverage range is. However, higher radio frequencies will reduce latency in communications.

The primary growth opportunities presented by 6G technologies center around improved communication and collaboration. The latest wireless technology promises to improve patient outcomes and enhance remote healthcare capabilities.  

Combining 6G with AI could expedite ideas and information exchange among medical professionals, including researchers, regardless of location. Additionally, 6G and AI could facilitate real-time data sharing and data set analysis and save valuable time for healthcare professionals, allowing them to detect patterns and predict potential health issues and patient outcomes promptly and securely.

Envisioning the Role of 6G Technology in Healthcare

As wireless technology advances, 6G opens up new possibilities for medical professionals beyond what 5G offers. For example, 6G introduces holographic communications for telemedical appointments, allowing surgeons to perform procedures in person or remotely using holographic representations of patients’ anatomy.

The high-speed data transfer capabilities of 6G enable personalized treatment plans based on a patient’s genetic makeup through swift analysis of vast datasets. However, this will also necessitate enhanced privacy measures and security protocols. 

Additionally, 6G’s advanced sensing and imaging technologies could aid in the real-time detection of cancerous growths with high-resolution 3D imaging. These innovations promise transformative potential for future mobile network technologies, revolutionizing healthcare services.

New cellular networks have emerged as a crucial lifeline to hospitals and health systems. The integration of 5G and the anticipated advancements of 6G offer promising benefits that will not only enhance efficiency and accuracy in medical care but also have the potential to save countless lives by providing timely care to ultimately improve patient outcomes.

About John English

As director of service provider marketing and business development at NETSCOUT, John English has the mission to share, with customers and industry analysts, how NETSCOUT solutions help all communications service providers (CSPs) successfully implement new technologies such as 5G and IoT, continually assure the delivery of high-quality services, and provide business insights that enable CSPs to monetize their networks. English uses the knowledge he has gained from his extensive background in telecom, having worked for a major communications service provider and numerous original equipment manufacturers providing multiple generations of technology solutions for CSPs.

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