YOU ARE AT:5GWireless connectivity applications look promising in the healthcare industry (Reader Forum)

Wireless connectivity applications look promising in the healthcare industry (Reader Forum)

Connectivity technologies like 5G and Wi-Fi 6 are transforming the healthcare industry

Providing quality medical services in a reliable, secure, economical and efficient manner is a top priority among providers, indicating healthcare applications could capture a substantial share of the wireless connectivity industry over the next few years.

The wireless connectivity industry continues to bloom as the world moves towards high-speed cellular networks, the digitalization of healthcare and the emergence of autonomous cars. Increased adoption of IoT it sure to bring in a gamut of top-notch gadgets and appliances to make lives simpler, more convenient and free of complicated systems.

In an increasingly IoT driven world, multiple devices connected through wireless networks are enabling the smooth, automated functioning of industrial machinery, drones, robots and even self-driving vehicles. The upcoming era of latency-free 5G networks and Wi-Fi 6 standard is set to completely transform the future of the wireless connectivity market.

Broadcom, Qualcomm, MediaTek, Texas Instruments, Intel, Nordic Semiconductor, Renesas Electronics, NEXCOM, Marvell Technology, Skyworks Solutions, Cypress Semiconductor and NXP Semiconductors are currently some of the big names in the fast-growing wireless connectivity space. Wireless technologies are enabling new, innovative and more advanced use-cases across all industry verticals, including healthcare. The recent worldwide outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic has created several new opportunities for the industry.

Highlighted below some pivotal factors driving the adoption of wireless networks in healthcare, some recent instances of how wireless technology is powering new applications and opportunities amid the rise in telehealth. 

Endless possibilities in healthcare

The healthcare sector, just like any other industry, is undergoing rapid digital transformation. Modern healthcare infrastructure and technologies rely on seamless connectivity to manage the growing number of patients and provide quality care. This is where wireless connectivity comes in.

The adoption of wireless technologies in healthcare is continuously increasing for a number of reasons, the first and foremost being the ageing world population and the subsequent rise in volume of patients in hospitals. The year 2020 witnessed the number of individuals aged 65 years or more reach 727 million worldwide, according to the UN.

A few instances of how wireless technologies are being used in medical devices, technologies, and many other innovative applications are given below:

• Digital health firm Zyter Inc. had rolled out a new 5G-ready platform called Zyter Smart Hospitals in January 2021 to transform the large, complex healthcare infrastructure into a single unified smart platform. The end-to-end smart solution is designed to connect a hospital’s disparate departments, people, data systems and IoT devices.

• In June this year, Abbot had teamed up with the America Heart Association (AHA) and the Lone Star Circle of Care clinic network to identify Texas based patients with uncontrolled high blood pressure and help them tackle the issue. As per the partnership, Abbot plans to supply more than 650 new Bluetooth powered blood pressure machines to patients who can’t afford it.

• London’s Chelsea & Westminster Hospital had deployed a new navigation app developed by BuzzStreets to help patients and families find their way around the hospital facility more conveniently. The application uses Wi-Fi, Bluetooth and the Earth’s magnetic field to give a person’s precise location and provide real-time directions.

• Last year in December, a team of medical scientists at the University of California, Berkeley had devised a way to use Bluetooth enabled tracking watch to study how the bond between a patient and the caregiver benefits the patient. The CareActive wearable technology is powered by Bluetooth that enables precise room-to-room mapping of patients.

These are merely a few examples that underscore the potential of wireless networks in a healthcare setting. Continuous technological developments which are being witnessed worldwide will surely push the scope even further.

Rise of telehealth and remote patient care

Telehealth or telemedicine has been around for several years, enabling physicians to provide healthcare services remotely. Its adoption surged exponentially in 2020 as patients as well as providers switched to remote healthcare services during the COVID-19 crisis.

Numerous partnerships between healthcare providers and telecom operators aimed at delivering quality telehealth services to subscribers have been witnessed recently. Some examples include:

• Wireless telecommunications brand Boost Mobile had partnered with K Health in May 2021 to offer its customers and their families access to a range of telehealth options. These include the opportunity to consult a physician via a smartphone, leverage K Health’s AI-powered symptom checker for diagnosis and get treatment. The partnership aims to provide low-income users with access to affordable healthcare.

• In April 2021, telecom giant Verizon had teamed up with Hoy Health to provide discounts of various healthcare services. Customers of Verizon can now receive exclusive discounts on telemedicine consultations and prescriptions. Verizon customers can save up to 35% of virtual medical consultations via a bilingual digital health platform available in English and Spanish.

Numerous healthcare organizations have also implemented remote patient monitoring amid COVID-19 with uncertainty around the disease progression resulting in longer hospitals stays and more intensive monitoring. In April 2021, Baptist Health adopted remote patient monitoring solutions developed by Current Health to achieve zero COVID-19 readmissions. These solutions include a wearable device, a tablet and cellular or Wi-Fi connectivity via its Home Hub. This could help frontline workers monitor patients outside the four walls of the hospital, ensuring safer care and recovery at home and maintaining bed capacity simultaneously.

The applications of wireless connectivity during the pandemic are not just limited to telemedicine. Many countries have launched AI-powered contract tracing apps enabled by Bluetooth, internet, and GPS to track COVID-19 patients in real-time. Even after the pandemic, the adoption of remote healthcare is expected to grow, which will constantly open up new opportunities for the wireless connectivity market.

Advent of 5G and Wi-Fi 6

Wi-Fi 6 and 5G are complementary technologies that promise to bring ultrahigh speeds and ultralow latency, delivering a more immersive experience. Both these technologies will coexist, bringing dramatically better performance to customers and organizations. Although 5G is still in the stages of development and testing in many areas, it’s only a matter of time before it becomes mainstream. The need for higher data speeds and seamless connectivity to support work from home, remote learning, and videoconferencing amid COVID-19 and power future applications such as industrial automation and self-driving cars certainly indicates that 5G and Wi-Fi 6 could well be the future of wireless connectivity.

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