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How 5G and IoT Will Transform Healthcare

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by Bob Rogers, chief data scientist for big data solutions


Technology and healthcare recently came together as part of a public forum at the Brookings Institution in Washington, D.C. I was honored to join representatives from the FCC and the health industry at this eminent institution to discuss how the advent of 5G, and the policies that enable it, will affect the future of healthcare.

We are witnessing the dawn of a cellular Internet of Things (IoT). Technological advancement is moving us beyond the simple device-to-device communication of 3G and 4G mobile broadband and toward massive coordinated machine-type communications. As 5G becomes available, a much wider array of devices be able to communicate, and even the smallest devices will be able to do so while at the same time performing powerful computations thanks to a connection to the cloud. A paper authored by Brookings highlights that the 5G network is expected to support over 50 billion connected devices by the end of the decade.

One industry that will benefit substantially from this growth is healthcare, where we can expect a new generation wearables for tracking heart health and fitness, diagnostics for proactive patient care, powerful data analytics and more. Just imagine a world where a patient’s condition can be assessed and treatment can be administered via wearable devices. Imagine a time when a patient’s data can be transmitted to a doctor on the other side of the world, who can then administer the treatment a patient needs — and even deliver a medication through the device itself. It’s not far off.

At Intel, we are paving the path to 5G from the device to the network to the cloud. In the area of health we’ve only scratched the surface of what powerful data analytics can do and how it can transform care. We’re already engaged in research efforts with the Michael J Fox Foundation to explore how data can be collected anonymously from wearables worn by patients and then analyzed to yield insights for doctors and researchers. The 5G network will allow more real time collaborations like this for patients and doctors around the world.

At Intel, I focus on the role that big data will play in the future. With 5G, we will see a time when data can be gathered and aggregated from a variety of sources and analysis of that data can be adapted to gain understanding and guide care. This capability will make it possible for us to comprehend more about disease in general, and the unique responses of individual patients to specific regimens of treatment. 5G will also be able to alter data algorithms in real-time, making critical health tools more capable and impactful, and creating an environment where tools like ultrasound machines can learn from the technicians that use them.

Some of this may sound like science fiction, but it’s not far off. These capabilities will be pervasive across healthcare as unconnected devices give way to a world where everything is connected and intelligent.

5G and the IoT are the foundation for technical advances most of us could scarcely imagine a decade ago. And at Intel, we are devoted to exploring all that is possible.

Learn more about Intel’s path to 5G.