A private 5G network that allows a hospital to track healthcare professionals and patients to optimise wait times and customer care has been set up at West China Second University Hospital. The hospital, Huawei and state-owned network provider China Mobile teamed up to create a private 5G network for the hospital.
The endeavour is part of a greater scheme to standardise 5G capabilities at all hospitals in China. It is part of the 5G Hospital Network Standard released by Chinese officials in October 2019.
The network uses mobile edge computing and network slicing to support a “smart brain”. The smart brain features a surveillance system that tracks healthcare professionals and patients to find ways to improve delivery and customer care .
The network seeks to increase the speed of communication between ambulances and hospital staff, better preparing doctors s in critical situations.
The network has already been used to conduct several remote operations including an instance where doctors performed a remote, robotically assisted brain surgery on a patient 2 500km away in Beijing.
The chief physician at PLA General Hospital, Dr Ling Zhipei completed a three-hour remote surgery with the aid of 5G. He found decreased lag time on video feeds and an increase in responsiveness from the remote controls, essentially creating real-time feeds that were not possible with 4G.
Global IT research house Gartner predicts that in 2020, worldwide 5G wireless network infrastructure revenue will reach $4.2 billion, an 89% increase from 2019. Gartner says while consumers represent the main driver for 5G development, communication service providers will focus on new 5G services at enterprises such as healthcare.
China remains a formidable force in the 5G arena. The US Senate has raised the possibility of subsidising US companies to counter the Chinese 5G market dominance. For now though, the country continues to maintain its lead in emerging technology.