You might think 5G is less important lately, now that many people are staying at home to combat the Covid-19 pandemic, but some applications of 5G could be more essential than ever right now, including remote GP consultations – which are currently being carried out in Coventry care homes.
Remote healthcare has been touted as a potential benefit of 5G for years, but only now are we in a situation where it could actually be dangerous for patients and doctors to be in close proximity. As a result, West Midlands 5G (WM5G) and Tekihealth (a small telemedicine company) have joined forces to trial consultations and full examinations in a group of care homes.
These involve the use of the Teki-Hub tool, which – over a 5G connection - provides high resolution photography, video, thermometer, and otoscope readings, as well as portable electrocardiograms and spirometry data.
Doing the rounds
Beyond consultations, the tool paired with 5G allows doctors to carry out fully remote ward rounds in care homes, so they can continue monitoring vital signs and making diagnoses, all without actually being there in person.
It’s easy to see how this could be beneficial in many healthcare settings right now, but especially so in care homes, where the residents are more clinically vulnerable than the majority of the population.
So far these 5G-powered consultations and ward rounds have been successfully used at five care homes, but that’s just the start, as the aim is to roll it out at up to 1,000 care homes in the region.
Andy Street, Mayor of the West Midlands, said: “While the outbreak of Covid-19 has highlighted how vulnerable patients in care homes can be, it was clear even before the pandemic that we needed an effective solution to provide essential care to our most vulnerable patients.
“Giving staff and GPs the technology necessary to safeguard patients while being able to perform thorough examinations is an important first step to deliver on our commitment to improving healthcare across the region.”
While this work is probably genuinely saving lives right now, it will continue to be important after the pandemic. As Street notes, it’s an important and effective solution to providing essential care to vulnerable patients.
Not needing to physically visit the patients should also mean doctors and other carers can work more quickly and efficiently, thereby helping more people.
And the potential for remote healthcare isn’t limited to GP consultations. Previously for example WM5G conducted the UK’s first remote ultrasound scan over 5G.