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How Will 5G Influence Healthcare Cybersecurity

Topic: How Will 5G Influence Healthcare Cybersecurity

5G has spent years hovering on the horizon, its industry-revolutionizing potential waiting just out of reach for healthcare providers and consumers. But now, the wait is (almost) over –– and for some, it already is. Mobile 5G began to make limited appearances in major cities across the country in the latter half of 2019. Those limits won’t be in place for long; however, a more comprehensive rollout is expected to sweep through the nation this year.

5G’s entry onto the scene has the potential to expand the healthcare industry’s potential in ways that weren’t even imagined a decade ago and pose all-new security risks for patients and providers. 

Most press pieces have focused on the latter point, and for a good reason. 5G stands to have an incredibly positive impact on the healthcare sector as a whole –– its super-fast mobile speeds will make communication instantaneous and connectivity a given. Where 4G might have been capable of sending data to and from 100,000 devices per square kilometer, 5G’s hyper-fast download speeds will enable data transmission for a million devices across the same distance.

With new wireless technology, healthcare organizations can rely on a faster, more reliable internet connection for thousands of medical devices and objects at any given time. It also offers providers who have limited or no access to broadband internet (i.e., isolated rural practices) a chance to easily connect to internet-facilitated health services that those in urban areas might take for granted.

However, two fields will benefit more from 5G than the rest: virtual reality and telemedicine. While physicians have begun to explore the use of VR and AR in comprehensive rehabilitation and telemedicine consults, their efforts have been significantly curtailed due to limitations in available 4G LTE connections. Latency, or the time between sending a data request to a device and receiving it, is considerably higher, thus limiting, with 4G. In contrast, latency with 5G is over ten times shorter than conventional speeds.

This shockingly low latency holds a great deal of potential for advancement in healthcare. As writers for a report on 5G’s potential in healthcare note in a December 2019 issue of Precision Clinical Medicine: “In the 5G era, with its innate high bandwidth and low latency advantage, VR is expected to help streamline the entire hospital, especially in telemedicine, teleconsultation, and even remote surgery.”

These advancements are expected to have a remarkable impact on patient care and digitally-facilitated healthcare sectors. The 2018 Market Research Future Report anticipates that “the telemedicine industry will experience a 16.5% compound annual growth rate from 2017 to 2023, due to an increased need for medical services in rural and underserved areas that may only be possible through 5G and IoT.”

Topic Discussed: How Will 5G Influence Healthcare Cybersecurity

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