As the coronavirus continues to cut its devastating swath around the globe, a crowded doctor’s office or overflowing ER is, quite literally, the last place you want to be unless it’s absolutely, positively unavoidable. And as people in virtually every corner of the globe retreat to the safety of their homes to try to escape the pathogen, those in need of medical care are left searching for solutions.
Now, more than ever before, the promise of telehealth is being fulfilled. Thanks to the advent of mobile and remote health technologies, you no longer have to leave your home to receive the medical care you need.
Now, you can transform your living room into your doctor’s office. You can consult with your nurse, your physician, or your therapist right there at the kitchen table. You can transmit your critical health data 24 hours a day, seven days a week, from virtually anywhere in the world. But the true potential of telehealth is only just being realized. With the coming of 5G in the years ahead, the power of these technologies will be far beyond that of even today’s most advanced systems. Read on to learn more!
What is 5G Anyway?
Simply put, 5G is simply the next generation of internet technology. It is the newest, most dynamic, and most sophisticated network we have ever seen. It will dramatically increase network speeds and reliability.
Above all, it’s going to enable all those devices on the vast and rapidly growing Internet of Things (IoT) to talk to one another better, faster, and more effectively. Plus, it’s going to accommodate virtually endless development. It’s going to allow the IoT to continue its massive expansion.
On the 5G network, the enormous library of digital healthcare technologies will work faster and better. But, even more than that, the 5G network will also enable the development of new apps, tools, and systems that 3G and even 4G could not support.
Preventing the Next Pandemic
As much as we may hate to think about it right now, embroiled as we are in the Coronavirus pandemic, but, for as long as there are living creatures on the earth, there’s going to be infectious disease. However, the new 5G network promises to be an important ally in the fight against the next great global pandemic!
The reason is pretty simple, really. When a new infectious disease emerges, you need data and you need it fast. You need to know what the contagion is doing, where it is, where it’s been, and where it’s likely to go next.
Want an example? As of April 9, 2020, more than 2 million COVID-19 tests have been administered in the US alone! But that is just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to the kinds and quantities of data we need to track a pandemic like this one.
The current tests only track how many people who appear to be symptomatic actually have the disease. But we also need to know how many people are out there who are asymptomatic but still infectious. We need to know how many of the infected die and how many recover. To build a true profile of the enemy, we need to know who they are, where they are, where they’ve been, what their disease progression looked like, what therapeutics were used and how they responded to each measure if more than one is needed.
And that is exactly what 5G is built to do. It’s about getting all the connected devices around the globe, not to mention those orbiting it, to talk to each other, clearly, fast, and reliably. And it’s about using those technologies to get the data we need to make informed health policy decisions on the local, national, and international levels.
The Rise of the Smart (and Healthy) City
The emergence of the 5G network is going to provide essential support to the development of smart cities worldwide. Smart cities are those purposely designed to harness the power of the IoT in particular and of the internet, in general, to optimize the overall quality of life for its citizens.
This includes using the 5G-connected IoT to provide internet-based services that protect and advance both public and private health. For example, smart cities often include IoT systems that provide real-time monitoring of air quality, allowing city leaders and healthcare providers to take measures to protect those most vulnerable to the effects of air pollution.
And that’s a big deal because, according to a 2018 report from the World Health Organization, an estimated 5.5 million people die every year as a result of air pollution. The simple fact is, these systems save lives, and they’re already being implemented in burgeoning cities from Chicago and Washington, DC, to Dublin, Ireland, and Oslo, Norway, both to facilitate city planning and support public and private healthcare.
If the outbreak of the coronavirus has taught us anything, it’s the power of technology-based healthcare to save lives. Never before has the ability to connect with our healthcare providers while keeping a safe distance been more important. Never have we needed faster, more sophisticated, and more accessible virtual health technologies more. Never has the role of Big Data in the protection of public and private health been more important.
But while today’s telehealth systems are proving to be a saving grace in the face of a global pandemic, we have only seen the tip of the iceberg. When the 5G network gets up and running, at last, we will find that the power of health is truly in our hands. We will have an abundance of tools at our fingertips to monitor our own well-being and that of those we love. We will have the technologies to connect and communicate with our care providers with speed and reliability we had once only dreamt of.
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