5G connects patient-hospital-caregiver

How technology is helping to deliver on the connected healthcare promise

by Kevin L. Jackson CEO, GovCloud Network

Healthcare is in the middle of massive change. Called digital transformation by many, this term describes the industry’s pursuit of the many promises offered by connected patients, connected caregivers, and connected hospitals. While the goals of this transformation are many and varied, a recent HIMSS Media survey revealed the top four as:

  • Seeking improved quality of care (68%)
  • Delivering better clinical outcomes (54%)
  • Improving communications and care coordination (54%)
  • Reducing readmission rates (42%)

Key obstacles preventing attainment are limited budget (53%), privacy/security concerns (47%), and clinical resistance to the adoption of digital technologies (43%).

The promise of connected healthcare, however, is being leveraged today by Rush University Medical Center and the Rush System for Health in Chicago. This system, which encompasses multiple hospitals and healthcare providers across the city, will be using both AT&T's 5G network and its multi-access edge computing (MEC) cloud-based edge IT service environment.

Working with Rush, AT&T Business will be helping to deliver on the connected healthcare promise through 5G technologies by expanding telemedicine, delivering near real-time remote healthcare monitoring, and delivering a capability to transmit large imaging files quickly. According to Anthem, 86% of doctors say wearables, which are a common type of remote monitoring, increase patient engagement with their health. Additionally, wearables are predicted to decrease hospital costs by 16% in the next five years.

With 5G, healthcare systems will eventually enable mobile networks to handle telemedicine appointments, which can significantly increase the reach of the program. When healthcare systems utilize this technology, it is expected that patients will be treated sooner and have access to specialists otherwise not available. It will eventually helpdoctors and other staff members to collaborate more efficiently. According to a study by Market Research Future, this is a crucial need because the telemedicine market is expected to grow at a compound annual growth rate of 16.5% from 2017 to 2023. By using IoT devices, healthcare providers can monitor patients and gather data that can be used to improve personalized and preventive care.

Adding a high-speed 5G network to existing architectures will eventually help quickly and reliably transport substantial data files of medical imagery, which can improve both access to care and the quality of care. An example is the Austin Cancer Center where the PET scanner generates huge files — up to 1 gigabyte of information per patient per study. With future 5G technologies they will be able to send test results as soon as the patient leaves the scanner.

Rush System for Health is not alone in this move towards a connected healthcare environment.

To realize the Connected Patient promise:

  • Seventy percent of healthcare organizations surveyed are using mobile and patient digital health tools.
  • Sixty-seven percent of healthcare organizations surveyed are using emails, texts, phone reminders, scheduling, appointments, payments.
  • Sixty-two percent of healthcare organizations surveyed are using comprehensive cybersecurity program.
  • Forty-seven percent of healthcare organizations surveyed are using patient teleconferencing.

To realize the Connected Caregiver promise:

  • Fifty-seven percent of providers surveyed are using Integrated electronic health record platform.
  • Forty percent of providers surveyed are using teleconferencing between providers.
  • Thirty-four percent of providers surveyed are using patient teleconferencing.
  • Forty-four percent of providers surveyed are using mobile devices for virtually seamless access to patient data.

To realize the Connected Hospital promise:

  • Seventy-three percent of healthcare organizations surveyed are using wireless bedside telemetry.
  • Eighty-two percent of healthcare organizations surveyed are using simplified check-in with self-service and mobile applications.
  • Seventy-nine percent of healthcare organizations surveyed are using enhanced in-room entertainment and education.

In accomplishing digital transformation, healthcare organizations must leverage secure telecommunications and digital technologies. AT&T can help these organizations transform the continuum of care—from the waiting room to the operating room, to the living room—with edge-to-edge technologies, including networking, mobility, cybersecurity, Internet of Things, and more. Visit our Healthcare Solutions page for more information.