West China Second University Hospital, in China’s Sichuan Province, could be considered the world’s first ‘smart hospital’

Next generation mobile technology has a lot to offer a modern hospital. From faster connection speeds to ‘smart’ computing and augmented reality, 5G has the capacity to revolutionise the medical industry and vastly improve the efficiency and quality of treatment.
As of last November, China’s West China Second University Hospital will be the first hospital worldwide to experiment with the true potential of 5G healthcare.
In a tripartite effort from the hospital, state-owned network provider China Mobile, and tech giant Huawei, the University Hospital has developed a private 5G network to facilitate the use of mobile edge computing (MEC) devices with network slicing.
The hospital features a 5G ‘smart’ brain: full, round the clock camera surveillance identifies and tracks the location and actions of both staff and customers, delivering smart asset management to optimise wait times and care delivery.
Similarly, this network can help radically accelerate data transfer from ambulances to hospitals, resulting in accurate care being delivered directly upon arrival. 
As with so many industries, 5G offers seemingly limitless possibilities for innovation in the medical sphere. However, the issue, as always, lies in agility. 
In the UK, the NHS is infamous for its sluggish and convoluted bureaucracy, one of the many reasons why it is so slow to change and relies on outdated tech. Couple this with its nature as a political plaything, pulled this way and that by the machinations of various short-lived government policies, and it begins to become clear why 5G adoption will be no easy task for UK healthcare.
It perhaps comes as no surprise, therefore, that it is China — a wealthy superpower that enjoys relative political stability and remains largely aloof of the issues of squabbling telcos — that has developed the world’s first 5G private network for medical use.
Boris Johnson’s government has promised to build 40 new hospitals by 2030, estimated to cost £24 billion. These new facilities, if they do materialise, could be a great opportunity to explore the prospects of a private 5G medical network for the UK, but this seems unlikely; the technical specifications of these hospitals have yet to be announced.
Healthcare worldwide has a huge need for 5G connectivity to cope with its ever-increasing demand. This project will be watched with interest by governments, healthcare agencies, and telcos alike around the world as they struggle to crack the deployment of 5G and ‘smart’ healthcare in their own countries.
To learn about the real potential for a 5G world, help us #make5Glive.
Also in the news: