5G in health and social care: Prevention and community management in action




On 29 November — as a part of the UK5G  vertical webinar series — a panel, hosted by KTN’s Richard Foggie, discussed the significant role of technology.

​​A modern trend in health and care service provision has been to try and move services accessed by citizens and patients closer to the community or indeed their homes. This is being encouraged through the population health models emerging globally which integrate social care, health care and preventative approaches to focus resources where they are most needed and indeed to personalise the ‘offer’ to patients. In real terms, this shift towards a ‘self-service’ or supported ‘self-care’ goal reflects both a desire to activate people to take a greater interest in their own health and wellbeing and the pressures to strip cost from the system (non-value-added activity) in a way that doesn’t negatively impact provision. 


Experience through Covid has emphatically proven the worth of digital connectivity as a service enabler: for example, telemedicine (e.g. remote consultations), wearables (e.g. physiological data transmission and analytics) and personalised services (perhaps using AI) are all under development. 5G platforms are already being used to serve communities, serving as early adopter exemplars. You can read our highlights of the event below. 

1. West Midlands 5G

Covid-19 meant that for large periods of 2020, it was not possible to offer face-to-face consultations and even when possible, many individuals were reluctant to venture into a clinical setting;  as a result, the desire to run remote diagnostic services has increased. For many, there are significant cost, time and convenience benefits associated with the ability to have remote consultations or self-administer diagnostics at home and WM5G is taking advantage of the security and reliability of 5G, to explore the art of the possible. 

In England, almost over half a million people are currently waiting for an endoscopy. If we can use 5G to reliably and securely deliver a self-administered equivalent procedure then we can hit the Covid-19 backlog and fundamentally change the way we deliver the service.

Adrian Smith, WM5G

He continued: “We are using swallowable cameras, delivered in an integrated box to the patient’s house. This lets people complete what is usually an uncomfortable process in the comfort of their own homes. In addition to being more convenient and quicker, the process is also less invasive. Sure, we could use 4G but the NHS would rightly say “that it isn’t secure”. This is a great example of 5G security and connection.”

2. Liverpool 5G Create Project

Technology has the ability to transform community management. But in Liverpool, not everybody has access to affordable and reliable connectivity: the Liverpool 5G Create Project is trying to address this. 

We have introduced a standalone network. Basically, we are using streetlights and street furniture to install nodes. This allows us to have our own cellular network. Yes, there are lots of upcoming exciting technologies but does everybody have access to them?

Rosemary Kay, Project Director

She added: “From a health and social care point of view, if we are doing remote solutions, then they need to be readily available to the community, irrespective of whether they have broadband. Providing a network also means that the local authorities and health do not have a variable data charge. Instead, we can manage the costs for the services.”

In addition, the Liverpool 5G Create Project is providing telehealth services and attempting to tackle isolation and loneliness, and even childhood anxiety by way of Chill Panda, a 5G-facilitated mental health application. 

West Mercia Rural 5G Project logo

3. West Mercia Rural 5G

Similarly, West Mercia Rural 5G is a partnership between SMEs, mobile operators and local authorities to enhance connectivity in rural areas. The project has been looking at two specific aspects: how to make a network scalable by repurposing existing infrastructure and the stability that 5G offers—and the societal benefits of this, such as health and social care and the ability to offer improved care in community or home settings. 

We’re trying to make the lives of patients and clinicians easier: for example, introducing head-worn cameras to help community nurses. We are trying to examine all of the processes, as well as consider the cost-benefit. How can we make it scalable and affordable so that the public and private work together? It’s about offering wider societal impacts—from the reduction of travel time, what this means for net zero, and the increased availability of nurses. It’s about using 5G to make people’s lives easier.

Joe McArdle, WMR5G

Copy courtesy of UK5G

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