Friday, January 13, 2017

A New Generation of eHealth Systems Powered by 5G

Just when we have become comfortable with 'there's an app for that' and downloading an icon to  your android smartphone or iPhone there cometh a new 'boy on the block'.

By 2020 4G will become obsolete to be replaced by 5G.  Health 3.0 will evolve into Health 4.0. What are the advantages and disadvantages of such a change?

Not only is 5G faster, it is a totally new technology that requires re-engineering what happens on your smartphone.

Standardized 5G systems will be market ready around 2020. What is clear is that 5G will be more than a simple evolution of the current network. Indeed, it will be a catalyst for new products and services by integrating networking, computing and storage resources into a unified infrastructure, becoming the nervous system of cognitive objects and cyber-physical systems. This white paper has as its scope the requirements of providing effective healthcare using 5G technology.

What factors are driving this change ?

Health 4.0 is a vision of care delivery that is distributed and patient-centered, and there is already evidence of a shift towards virtualization and individualization of care. With 5G as its foundation, the transition to person-led care can be completed. Healthcare models are rapidly changing due to demographic and socio-economic changes from a hospital based, specialist focused approach to a distributed patient centric care model. The point of care is shifting from hospitals towards GP surgeries, day-clinics, care homes, patient homes and the Internet.

 It is generally assumed that commercial standardized 5G mobile communication systems will emerge around 2020.

"A New Generation of e-Health SystemsPowered by 5G" white paper posted by the European Commission, "Digital Single Market" defines the new standards and what they will accomplish in 2020.  That is a mere 4 years away.....a millenium in internet and smart device lives.

The WWRF World Wireless Research Forum presents an overall view of wireless technology.

The 5G Huddle: Opening Presentation of Houlin Zhao - Secretary General of ITU

However, no medical doctors or patient organizations, who are the end users of e-Health and medical applications, are members of any 5G research projects. Their voices are indirectly represented by government officers, the term citizen is used. Also medical and e-Health together claim the second most frequent vertical applications, while the top vertical application is vehicle.

The key point is that once again medicine and health technology are lagging in vertical integration of a future technology that promises to increase usability and  reliability of IOT, remote monitoring, and mHealth. These new technologies ie, 5G are well along in development for other industries, particularly automotive and autonomous vehicle controls.

Health Care IT appears to be bogged down by counterproductive regulations from Washington, D.C. in regard to scraping data for MIPS and MACRA.  Energy to develop 5G for health has been diverted into government's self-interest to regulate health care and decrease cost.

Health 4.0 – virtualization of care Industrial and emerging economies are undergoing groundbreaking demographic and socio-economic changes. The 19th and 20th century healthcare systems with hospitals and specialists at their core surrounded by General Practitioners are changing in a rapid and progressive manner. More and more people receive treatment in day clinics, day surgery units, doctors’ surgeries, at home – or over the Internet. The delivery of care in the future will be distributed and patient centered rather than hospital based and practitioner focused. So far this trend has only been visible by studying statistics on hospital beds, treatment costs, doctor numbers, demographics and case mixes3.    Health 4.0 will support the collection of data in the real world and their transformation and aggregation into more complex services (virtual world). This will allow for delivery of care close to the patient’s domain (hospital to home) (Virtualization and decentralization). The delivery of (virtualized) care will be in real time and based on (next to) real time data collection.

Simply put Health 4.0, with 5G as its foundation, will see well-being, social care, and healthcare services transition from supplier-led to person-led. There are several important concepts in this seemingly simple statement – the inclusion of well-being in the care spectrum, the transition of leadership of services, and use of the term ‘person’ not ‘patient’. 5G provides a technical foundation for much opportunity in health domain. In parallel to the formal health and social care services, 5G enables the consumer market to play a role. Consumer devices have proliferated in the marketplace. These devices cover the range of data-generating apps through fit bit-like devices that automatically collect and share data, through what would otherwise be considered devices solely in the purview of the medical community like pulse oxymeters, which measures oxygen saturation in a person’s blood non-invasively. This availability and proliferation of consumer devices is pushing healthcare from treatment triggered by symptoms and medical incidents to more self-diagnosis and care, and health. With a wealth of devices and hence knowledge, the average person is able to make different choices to proactively impact health and well-being and thus healthcare truly now includes well-being. As care includes well-being more and more, the term patient will no longer apply. A patient by definition is someone seeking healthcare; someone that already has health symptoms or experienced an incident. With consumer devices and virtualized ‘care’, the patient becomes less relevant and the person more relevant. This will also trigger discussions around new business models, which are able to integrate well-being, health and social care approaches. This might lead to individualized healthcare accounts, which may enhance people’s ability to design their individual care profile that might be funded from different sources. It is easy enough to visualize people using IoT technology and consumer devices for their well-being to monitor and manage exercise, sleep, heart rate and so on. Consumer-oriented medical devices will extend this, allowing people to more easily manage their chronic conditions in ways that only their health care providers could formerly. Proper management of chronic disease leads to better patient outcomes.

Based upon previous lag in adoption of new HIT providers may reject these new technologies as it first appears to decrease provider involvement in patient care.  The reality is that it will relieve allied health personell from monitoring patients, with data going directly to the electronic health record for analysis by the provider.

The key take-aways can be summarized as follows:  Healthcare models are rapidly changing due to demographic and socioeconomic changes from a hospital based, specialist focused approach to a distributed patient centric care model  The point of care is shifting from hospitals towards GP surgeries, day-clinics, care homes, patients’ own homes and the Internet  The empowerment of patients and their formal and informal carers has become a prime target of health care strategy development in Europe and elsewhere  Emerging new network technologies, including 5G, will form the backbone of future healthcare, enabling the Internet of Things, Smart Pharmaceuticals and Individualized Medicine  Cloud computing, Big Data and enhanced security will enable virtualization and individualization of care and allow the application of Industry 4.0 design principles in health care (Health 4.0). 


  1. The faster connection speeds will obviously improve the response of health services, building on the already impressive list of benefits of telemedicine services. Thank you for this post.

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  3. The pith of visiting your specialist once in a while in the wake of being cured and discharged from healing center are a distant memory. It is the high time that we acknowledged innovation and grasped mHealth. I find a very good website for the Pharmacy blog, If you want you can visit this site.

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