The global outbreak of the respiratory coronavirus disease COVID-19 has put healthcare systems across the globe under tremendous pressure and highlights the urgent need to advance toward smart healthcare systems. COVID-19 has also presented the perfect application scenario for the deployment of 5G networks in hospitals, doctors’ practices, and social care environments.
In line with this, global tech market advisory firm, ABI Research forecasts that by 2026, 5G will generate $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,” said Leo Gergs, research analyst for 5G Markets at ABI Research. “By providing 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.”
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Having realized the importance of modernizing healthcare infrastructure, the COVID-19 outbreak has accelerated 5G network deployment in hospitals especially in the hardest-hit regions, such as China. By providing sufficient bandwidth through enhanced mobile broadband capabilities, the deployment of a 5G network allowed 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.
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. Furthermore, 5G will allow the widespread deployment of Artificial Intelligence (AI), which will transform current manual processes into smartly automated workflows.
“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,” Gergs said. “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.”
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.