BT provided an update to its 5G healthcare technology at University Hospitals Birmingham (UHB) in the UK, showcasing VR and AR technology used in an ambulance based two miles away.

Adding to remote-controlled ultrasound capabilities revealed in June, a clinician was equipped with a VR headset to remotely view a dummy patient, medical records and vital signs, to make a diagnosis.

With these use cases, BT and clinicians argue patients are diagnosed faster and surgical theatres can be prepped in advance if needed. The techniques can also cut queues for emergency services and reduce outpatient attendance.

UHB chief executive David Rosser said 5G offers “the potential to create more efficient use of healthcare resources, particularly with regards to easing the burden on Accident and Emergency services which are facing unprecedented demand”.

Wider potential
Fotis Karonis, CTIO of BT Enterprise and the operator’s 5G adviser (pictured, centre), said the service can be deployed in rural areas when standalone networks are widely available.

He earmarked dynamic spectrum sharing, a technology enabling LTE and 5G NR to operate simultaneously, as a key driver.

He said the UK has “a great head start” compared with other Western European countries in terms of employing 5G for healthcare, because other markets are still at the spectrum auction phase.

Karonis added 2G spectrum will also be refarmed for 4G and 5G networks to improve data rates.