How 5G Will Alter the Health Landscape

March 24, 2020

If you happen to live in a major metropolitan area, you may have noticed something different as you scroll through your phone. That familiar ‘4G’ that appears in the top right of your phone may now be a ‘5G’. You may not realize it, but that ‘5’ symbolizes a significant turning point for technology.  

If we look back at inflection points within our history where technology has changed our lives, we can pinpoint them quite easily: the industrial revolution, the Wright brothers successfully flying, Henry Ford inventing the car, the adoption of personal computers or PCs, cell phones and most recently the iPhone. We may not have known it at the time but these advancements all significantly changed the way we live our daily lives.   

5G has the potential to be the next technology to drastically change the way we operate. The simplest way to communicate the impact of 5G is by thinking about the current speed of your mobile phone. 5G will be 100x faster. You already stream Netflix and YouTube with little lag, imagine it being 100x times faster. There also is a significant increase in the number of devices that are able to connect to an access point. 

With traditional Wi-Fi, on average 250 devices can connect. With 4G, hundreds of thousands can connect. With 5G, millions of devices can connect to a single access point. This means less infrastructure can provide an increased level of access.  

5G will also greatly affect the health industry. Here is how:  

From phones to watches and tablets, each of us is using connected devices more quickly. With the increased capacity of access points, more devices will be able to be connected. This means the functionality will increase, both in terms of how many devices and also to which speed devices can connect and transmit data. This leads to broader adoption of health monitoring devices. Doctors will have the ability to use health monitoring data to help with their evaluation of their patients’ health due to the ability to quickly access and analyze the data transmitted via 5G.

The increased speed of file sharing will also play a big factor in doctors’ ability to analyze larger files more quickly. Today, sending MRI scans and other massive files takes time. 5G will allow this to happen in real time. It will also provide the ability to have mobile imaging stations, eliminating certain aspects of patient transportation. The ability to transmit data quickly will also aid in the execution and adoption of remote robotic surgery. By being able to transmit the execution of the surgery in real time, the accuracy of the surgery will be improved.  

5G will also directly influence more patient centric experiences as well. Telemedicine specifically, while gaining in adoption, has not taken off as the health industry has hoped for. Part of the reason for lack of adoption is negative user experience due to poor connection causing communication issues between patients and health care professionals. With improved connection and data transfer speeds, the user experience will be significantly better, allowing patients to speak to specialists from all over the world just as if they were in the room with their physician.  

One other key area that 5G will play a major role in is the use of cognitive therapy. Cognitive therapy is the practice of using psychotherapy to treat the mind and body rather than traditional medication. Being able to deliver more lifelike experiences through virtual or augmented reality could help the world of cognitive therapy take a big step forward.  

So, what does this mean for pharmaceutical companies and advertisers?  

The rise in 5G will provide new digital experiences to consumers. Whether it is on a connected device, a VR simulation or a telemedicine consult, there will be new landscapes for consumers to engage with content, present unique opportunities for brand to engage consumers.  

One specific example of that is the company Populus Media. Populus is taking advantage of the growth in telemedicine, by partnering with multiple telemedicine providers and making inventory in ‘virtual’ waiting rooms available to serve advertisements. This provides a useful experience to consumers at a time of need, who normally would be staring at a blank screen.  

Another example is the way 5G will allow the switch from written to video content strategy. Consumers often prefer to engage with video content, so this switch could improve campaign outcomes overall.  

While we can’t fully predict the impact 5G will have on our daily lives, just as we couldn’t predict the impact the invention of airplanes and cell phones and personal computers, one thing is for certain: this is going to be big.