If 3G wireless service was like living in a small city apartment, and 4G akin to moving to a family home with a backyard, transitioning to 5G wireless is analogous to becoming the sole owner and resident of an entire skyscraper. The difference in speed, capacity and latency between 5G and its predecessors is exponential. While U.S. carriers will be rolling out their 5G networks and devices through 2020, healthcare providers need to plan for 5G right now. Its capabilities could accelerate the growth of several new business models that we see as critical to enabling providers to compete as the industry shifts to consumer-driven, value-based care.
5G is a new generation of technology, not a mere extension or upgrade of today’s 4G networks. It should enable data transfer at 10 gigabits per second, compared to the 300 megabits per second maximum speed of a 4G LTE network For comparison, one telecom provider notes that it takes about 13 minutes to download a 4.7GB movie to a smartphone over 4G. With 5G, the same file will download in just 4 seconds.
Further, 5G has extremely low latency—just 1 millisecond—and large carrying capacity so that devices can interact nearly instantaneously. The exponential increase comes into play again: It’s not a handful or even hundreds of devices: 5G can support up to 1 million sensors per square kilometer.
While the implications of speed, capacity and low latency for gaming and entertainment get a lot of attention, business use cases also are compelling. Businesses told Gartner that they intend to deploy 5G throughout 2020. Their top uses were likely to be Internet of Things (IoT) communications, video, controls and automation, fixed wireless access, edge analytics, location tracking and augmented and virtual reality applications.
Healthcare providers similarly should start making their 5G application lists. Network service providers will be able to customize “slices” of their 5G networks to support specific healthcare use cases. Low latency would be the primary requirement for asset tracking and management in a hospital, while a telehealth offering would also require high speed and capacity. With this flexibility, the technology should help accelerate adoption and expansion of these new business models that we see as natural evolutions of initial investments and experiments that providers are making:
One provider, Rush System for Health in Chicago, is implementing 5G throughout its campus to improve hospital operations, provide better experiences to patients and staff and reduce costs. New industry players from tech and corporate worlds, such as Amazon and Walmart, are likely to bring 5G-based solutions into healthcare, strengthening their connections with consumers. To ensure that they are on the same playing field, healthcare providers need to be thinking about 5G now. Here are some practical considerations:
For more information, please read our white paper “Healthcare On Demand: New Provider Business Models for the Digital Economy,” visit the Healthcare section of our website, or contact us.
This Perspectives article was written by Vanessa Pawlak, AVP Cognizant Healthcare Consulting and Gayathri Sourirajan, Director Cognizant Healthcare Consulting. For more information, please contact us @ firstname.lastname@example.org.