A new, extensive report from Ericsson predicts that 5G connectivity will be increasingly important in healthcare as patients start to demand more connected care through wearables, apps, and telehealth.
The report represents the results of two surveys carried out in Germany, Japan, South Korea, the UK and the US. The first was a survey of 4,500 advanced smartphone users. The sample is not representative of the general population, but Ericsson predicts these early adopters could point the way toward the healthcare trends of the future. The second survey included 900 hospital decision makers. The results were augmented with patient and provider focus groups held in the US and UK.
The report details enthusiasm about new technology in health, but also challenges and concerns. For example, 60 percent of respondents believed wearables would lead to a healthier lifestyle and 62 believed they would put people in control of their own health.
But when it came to adhesive monitoring devices, or ‘health patches’, 61 percent were concerned about the data being used without their permission. And 52 percent expressed concern that use of these devices would lead to a loss of physical face time with doctors.
Doctors were also skeptical about the current generation of wearables, with 55 percent of healthcare decision makers saying that devices aren’t sufficiently accurate or reliable for diagnosis.
Getting back to 5G, the study cited data showing consumers were concerned with the reliability of health tracking devices — which could include reliability of the network they’re on.
"As healthcare becomes more dependent on wearables and connectivity, consumers express concern about reliability,” the report says. “In fact, 59 percent of consumers say that they are concerned about poor connectivity affecting data transmission. Battery charging is another issue – 56 percent of consumers with chronic ailments worry about their health patches suddenly running out of battery. Forty-two percent of cross-industry decision makers expect devices connected to 5G networks to consume less power, reducing the frequency of recharges.”
Finally, the survey detailed a number of technologies that patient respondents believed would simplify health management. Forty-five percent said using smartphones to book appointments would simplify health management, 39 percent saw value in online consultations, and 35 percent believed storing health records in a central repository would do the trick. Remote administration of medication via a patch and apps for personal fitness were less popular, with 28 percent and 26 percent respectively expressing optimism about those technologies.
There are a lot more stats in the full report on Ericsson’s website.