Health and social care services worldwide are currently facing considerable difficulties. A shortage of carers and healthcare workers has led to a rise in unnecessary and costly GP and A&E visits, according to Age UK and the World Health Organization. Local authority spending in these sectors has fallen significantly in recent years. If nothing changes, an ageing and growing population means we will face a funding gap of £18 billion in the UK alone by 2030/2031.
This means that older people will still have to leave their homes to use necessary health and social care services and the prospect of living independently becomes unattainable.
mmWave Networking: The Future of Smart Healthcare?
mmWave technology could alleviate many of these challenges, thanks to its high speeds of data transfer and easy deployment. By using mmWave frequencies, Blu Wireless are able to achieve the 5G speeds of connectivity needed for interactive consultations using high-definition video or fast and secure access to diagnostic data. mmWave delivers this dramatic increase in bandwidth by using a much higher frequency than most mobile communications and Wi-Fi, achieving rates of 10+ Gbit/s – that’s 100 times faster than typical 4G speeds, making it perfect for data-intensive IoT applications in health and social care.
What makes this technology particularly practical for health and social care applications is its configurability. Our developers build software-defined networking layers into our mmWave networks, ensuring that a tailored service is provided for each application according to their need for throughput, latency, security and reliability – for example, a 5G remote patient monitoring application can be provided with reliability, alarms in case of lost connectivity and priority bandwidth in case of any incident.
The network is equally self-organising: it can seamlessly self-repair whenever needed, meaning no interference with the connection. As health and social care applications are dependent on consistent connectivity for patients’ health, this reliability is a huge advantage.
Another consideration is affordability. Blu Wireless leverages licence-free bands and sophisticated technology for co-existence and automatic configuration to create mmWave networks that are easy to deploy anywhere.
Impact of Smart Health and Social Care Applications
Video calling and health sensor devices have the potential to improve the remote delivery of health and social care services, enabling older people to live independently for longer.
Applications of this type include video streaming linking patients to pharmacies, IoT home sensors to support people to live at home independently, social and entertainment applications to connect older people and combat loneliness, and real-time health monitoring.
Yet, these require access to consistently fast and reliable data transfer in order to be effective. The high cost of deployment required for traditional wired and wireless networking has inevitably held back the wide application of these technologies so far. 5G mmWave extends their reach.
Implementing mmWave at the Liverpool 5G Testbed
As part of the Liverpool 5G Testbed, Blu Wireless successfully deployed an innovative 5G mmWave mesh network, bringing ultra-fast, low-cost connectivity to individuals and care providers in Kensington and Fairfield, Liverpool. Care providers working in these communities have had limited access to connectivity, making the requirement for high-speed connectivity all the more urgent.
Thanks to Blu Wireless’s network, the project has demonstrated that with the right connectivity, health and social care providers are able to remotely monitor patients’ wellbeing, environment and medication, freeing them and their patients from some of the time, costs and wellbeing implications associated with travel.
The network powers 5G applications which promote independent living for older people, allowing them to live at home for longer, avoiding unnecessary moves to care homes and facilitating a faster and more successful return from hospital to home. Hospital re-admissions were reduced by a third and 79% saw an improvement in their health/health management, according to results data from the Testbed.
Blu Wireless’s mmWave networking technology proven at the Liverpool 5G Testbed provides a solid, real-world use case to build on both in the UK and overseas.
By reducing costs, ensuring reliable connectivity and opening up 5G speeds of wireless networking to application developers, Blu Wireless are providing a pathway for smart health and social care applications to 5G connectivity. If mmWave networks are rolled out in further communities beyond Liverpool, the results could be life-changing for patients and communities.
To find out more about our Smart Cities 5G mmWave networking solutions, get in touch.