Private 5G Will Transform Healthcare

BrandPost By NTT
Mar 17, 2022

Private 5G can offer an integrated, controllable, organization-wide approach to networking. This allows healthcare organizations to evolve their network quickly and securely—without losing existing investment in technology or assets—to deliver better communications to its staff and care to its patients.

Doctor in meeting
Credit: NTT

By Nadeem Ahmad

As enterprises prepare to move from 4G to private 5G, it’s critical to remember that this is not merely a speed and bandwidth boost, along the lines of how moving from 3G to 4G played out. 

As opposed to a simple performance upgrade, private 5G changes the game as organizations can have 5G infrastructure where the spectrum – and hence the network, as well as the data on the network – are owned by, and under the control of the organization. The concept of enterprise-owned (and enterprise-focused) cellular networks is quickly gaining popularity as the combination of the performance improvements of 5G networks and the control and security enterprises need is potentially too good to pass up. IoT/IIoT, VoIP and supporting a massive number of remote sites are just a few of the hardships today’s enterprise networks face.

There are multiple enterprise advantages to having this level of control. First, the business is far less exposed—if they are exposed at all—to an outage, breach, or other problem at the carrier level, at least as far as the business’ private 5G is concerned. Secondly, changes/tweaks/customization do not require going to a third-party. Everything can be managed in-house.

With private 5G, enterprises can realize game-changing benefits in cybersecurity, system controls, reliability, and scalability as well as significantly lower latency of the network. This is on top of the potential for seamless integration into an existing infrastructure.

Regardless of industry, the drive for digital transformation of operations and experience, enabled by technologies like private 5G, is in full force. The dedicated, extensible, enterprise-focused nature of the private 5G network—providing control and lower cost, along with the performance enhancements—is what will transform the industry.

Emergency health needs private 5G

In addition to integrated cybersecurity, private 5G allows an organization to be strategic with their application and connectivity delivery, isolating or dedicating bandwidth to critical functions. That means, for example, that emergency personnel can have dedicated bandwidth for firefighters with another dedicated group for police and a third for paramedics/ambulances. In that scenario, the police can flood their devices with as much communication as they want without degrading the communications of the other two groups at all.

In a healthcare setting, this could mean dedicated communications for the emergency department, without impacting the labs or other testing facilities. This means better performance and reliability, lower latency along with improved data security and privacy for patients. Better security and privacy mean happier regulators and potentially improved healthcare with happier patients and practitioners. 

Even better, private 5G, if implemented correctly, means easier installation/upgrade. It can easily integrate into a hospital’s existing infrastructure, eliminating the need to rip out that infrastructure rendering its previous investment a waste. This approach also enables far more sophisticated visibility into the entire LAN and, where applicable, WAN.

Private 5G, especially when delivered as-a-Service, can offer an integrated, complete, controllable, organization-wide approach to networking. This in turn allows healthcare organizations to evolve their network quickly, simply, and securely—without losing existing investment in technology or assets—to deliver better communications to its staff and care to its patients.

Private 5G is about a lot more than IT. Although IT is the instrument, the private 5G benefits are really about the business imperatives for healthcare providers that will be impacted and even accelerated. These benefits range from addressing patient safety risks introduced through digital transformation to driving improvements in patient engagement and clinician satisfaction through a total experience strategy — creating superior, shared patient and clinician experiences across multiple touchpoints and channels.

In today’s healthcare settings, this has significant potential. For example, when there is an operational emergency such as a hurricane, power generator failure, being overwhelmed by patients (as happened during intense parts of the Covid pandemic), temporary facilities need to be created in parking lots, on lawns, or in buildings on the farthest points of the hospital’s property.

When the LAN is stretched too thin

Part of the challenge with delivering this distributed [and digital-first] healthcare, is that it is critical to have strong and consistent connectivity between these dispersed locations and the rest of the facility. And yet LANs can be stretched too far, when patients are moved to areas that never before needed LAN access. Private 5G is well-equipped for such emergencies. With almost all high-resolution test results (e.g., MRI, CAT scans) being transmitted in digital forms, the network is often stressed by the conflicting needs of having to move extremely large files very quickly.

All manner of compliance rules—HIPAA being the most prominent for the healthcare vertical—stress the need for both data protections and privacy enforcement. When speed is prioritized—as is needed for emergency room test results, for example—some systems can get lax about protecting the data from malware or anyone sniffing the network. Private 5G internalizes security controls, simultaneously protecting the data streams and protecting privacy.

Private 5G could deliver the network wherever it needs to be, extending services effortlessly and securely, with reliable communications and enhanced bandwidth. That’s why enterprises need to include private 5G in their plans and NTT has the private 5G experience to help. Contact us today.

Learn more about our views on connecting the dots between private 5G and enterprise security in our latest security whitepaper.