As we’ve recently discussed, the low latency and high bandwidth capacity of 5G networks will likely revolutionize health care through profound improvements to patient experience. Many of these experience improvements fall under the general umbrella of “telehealth.” While the benefits will be significant in the US, they may be felt even more dramatically in the developing world. In this article, we’ll dive deeper into telehealth, and look at some of its use cases both domestically and abroad.
What Is Telehealth?
According to a recent overview by BroadBandCommunities, telehealth consists of the following broad categories:
- Teleradiology enables the physical separation of medical diagnostic imaging and analysis, eliminating the need for a radiologist to be in the same location as the imaging technician. While this can allow patients unlimited access to expert opinions across the world, transmission of these high-resolution images can strain network capacity.
- Remote Patient Monitoring (RPM) includes an entire ecosystem of devices that can track and store a patient’s vital signs outside of a traditional medical facility. RPM devices have been used to great effect by the Veterans Health Administration to proactively address troublesome developments.
- Telepresence is a general term that encompasses any remote interaction with a medical professional. It may include anything from a high-resolution video conference with a doctor to a semi-invasive procedure performed by a connected robotic device. These capabilities will increase in their immersiveness with advancements in virtual reality (VR) and augmented reality (AR).
While traditional health services delivery in the Western world can be challenging, those difficulties are more extreme elsewhere. According to a recent BBC report, in Indonesia (the world’s fourth most populous country), there are only three doctors for every 10,000 residents. The limitations of physical infrastructure that cause massive traffic jams mean a ten-minute consultation can consume up to half a day, including transport and long waiting times at a health care facility.
However, one solution profiled in the feature offers a solution. Through a combination of video conferencing with a doctor and subsequent e-prescription delivery, patients can have a full professional consultation and receive their prescription in the comfort of their homes, all in the time it would take to physically arrive at a doctor’s office.
The Challenges of Telehealth
The primary challenge to telehealth has been bandwidth availability. These issues are compounded by clunky interfaces and workflow integration challenges. However, provided ample bandwidth going forward (perhaps through fiber capacity expansion strategies), innovation should overcome these operational difficulties.
To ensure your health care network has sufficient bandwidth to support these new services, contact Champion ONE today.