The doctor is on: reimagining healthcare with 5G.

Even in uneventful times, it takes a lot of effort to fight disease, keep people well, and make sure everyone has access to quality healthcare. Today, the stakes are even higher as the world grapples with a pandemic that has underscored the universal need for digital access.

While we’re used to hearing about scientific advances in medicine, the industry is just beginning to explore some of technology’s most promising developments. According to tech startup veteran and Chief Digital Officer at CVS Health, Firdaus Bhathena, “We are at an inflection point right now. There are some very key technologies that we believe are critical to our future. It's AI for healthcare, it's connected devices, and it's virtual care.” Of course, the success of these applications depends on exceptional network connectivity, and near real-time access to a mighty river of data.

Sensing new healthcare opportunities

Like so many of the solutions associated with digital technology, the possibilities for transforming healthcare sound like the stuff of science fiction. But 5G connectivity could help put them in motion. That’s the kind of positive impact that inspired Bhathena to make healthcare his focus, as covered in his interview with iHeart Radio’s The Restless Ones podcast, sponsored by T-Mobile for Business.

And with the ongoing advancement (and falling costs) of sensor technology and processing power, a new world of care delivery is within sight.

“Being able to combine these technologies of AI, connected devices, and virtual care using 5G networks with low latency and throughput of wireline networks... It's going to lead to an absolute explosion in the kinds of healthcare experiences that will really, truly improve people's lives.”

Firdaus Bhathena, Chief Digital Officer, CVS Health

Better care virtually anywhere

Bringing people access to quality, affordable healthcare is one of the biggest challenges we face as a society. As the COVID-19 crisis has demonstrated, a system of remote care that’s both effective and mobile can make a tremendous difference. With connected devices, AI, and 5G, it could become possible to do things that go far beyond the basic “tele-doctor” consultations happening today.

Here’s an example of the future: An infant gets sick during a family vacation. Her parents use a connected scope to “look” at her throat and in her ears, sending detailed data to an AI engine at her pediatrician’s office. It predicts 82% probability of an ear infection, cross-references the baby’s records to identify any complicating factors, and contacts the physician on call who now has the preliminary diagnosis, and can either prescribe an antibiotic or take additional steps.

“But it’s just the tip of the iceberg,” Bhathena predicts. “Using things like 5G networks, you can do remote surgeries because you don't have the latency anymore. The way I think about it, 5G makes it like being there.”

Seamless connectivity for holistic wellness

Bhathena anticipates a huge increase in the availability of low-cost connected devices—with high data throughput, low latency, and near real-time connectivity provided by emerging next-gen networks in the 5G era. Imagine a future in which most—if not all—of your checkups or your medical visits can be done in the comfort of your home.

In fact, that kind of connectivity doesn’t just lead to more powerful ways to diagnose and treat people who are sick. Bhathena believes it will take prevention and wellness to a new level, too. “I really think the medical-grade connected devices that will provide the kind of real-time monitoring…that's going to really change people's lives.”

For the full story, listen to “Virtual & Connected: Your Healthcare Re-Imagined” from iHeart Radio’s The Restless Ones podcast.

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