COVID-19 is testing healthcare systems around the world. The pandemic has highlighted the need to modernise healthcare systems, including processes and policies.
With the planned launch of 5G services, COVID-19 presents a perfect application scenario for the deployment of 5G networks in hospitals, doctors’ practices, and social care environments, according to ABI Research.
The research firm forecasts that by 2026, 5G will generate US$399.8 million in revenues in the healthcare domain with a total of 4.6 million 5G connections by 2026.
“These numbers underscore the huge momentum that we see for 5G adoption in the healthcare domain,” says Leo Gergs, research analyst for 5G Markets at ABI Research.
He opines that with its enhanced mobile broadband, ultra-reliable low latency, and massive machine type communication, 5G will be an important building block for smarter and more efficient healthcare systems.
ABI Research says the COVID-19 outbreak has accelerated 5G network deployment in hospitals especially in the hardest-hit regions, such as China. One such use case is the introduction of remote diagnostic and consultation facilities within hospitals in China, to prevent patients potentially infected with COVID-19 from having to leave their house to get medical consultation and preliminary diagnosis.
“By enabling remote consultation, 5G significantly contributed to the reduction of COVID-19 infection rates and therefore prevented countless numbers of lives lost in China,” Gergs explained.
In the longer term, 5G will transform the healthcare sector even more profoundly than remote diagnostics and consultations. By enabling powerful bandwidth combined with latencies of below 10 milliseconds, 5G will be the breeding ground for technologies like Augmented Reality (AR) and Virtual Reality (VR) in the healthcare environment.
5G will also allow the widespread deployment of Artificial Intelligence (AI), which will transform current manual processes into smartly automated workflows.
Gergs pointed out that despite the tremendous opportunities that 5G brings to the healthcare domain, particularly through the operation of private cellular networks, network operators and infrastructure vendors need to understand, that these deployment projects do not happen overnight.
“Rather, it needs the consolidated effort of network operators and infrastructure vendors to develop innovative business models based on managed services instead of just selling connectivity,” he continued.
ABI Research forecasts that by 2026, the majority of 5G revenues will be generated by a combination of managed services, while only 45% of revenues will come from monetizing connections.
“In order to be successful in the healthcare domain, telco monetizing strategies need to reflect this change to preserve their spot in the 5G value chain,” concludes Gergs.