The Future of 5G in Healthcare

Medical professionals walk through a hallway at work discussing patient care.

How is 5G used in medicine?

5G, the fifth-generation digital wireless technology network now in global use, is transforming our society in many ways. It’s not just hosting smartphones and other wireless devices; it’s also crucial for interconnecting smart healthcare technologies, including next-generation user experiences and services1. In the near- and mid- term future, 5G-connected medical tech is expected to revolutionize healthcare in ways that could benefit us all.

Learn more about 5G.

From telemonitoring that can help prevent falls to performing remote robotic brain surgery, 5G is helping to bring “smart” hospitals—those that use technology to make life better for patients and staff—into our lives2. 5G powers smart technologies, such as artificial intelligence (AI) and the Internet of Things (IoT), to help improve patient care, streamline workflows, and automate processes. These technologies let hospitals gather, interpret, and respond to data they collect. In short, they create a building with eyes and ears2 to give us all better and more timely healthcare.

Following are common questions people ask about such advanced 5G-driven medical applications.

How is 5G used in healthcare delivery?

We’re early in the 5G-tech-driven healthcare delivery revolution. We may not see some envisioned medical applications until the mid-term future. First, we’ll need to build a global network of very expensive 5G towers that overcome 5G’s present-day technical limitations3. Secondly, governments worldwide must install sophisticated medical equipment in rural areas that lack 5G infrastructure. And finally, medical professionals must be trained in how to use game-changing 5G-based futuristic technology.

Nevertheless, 5G healthcare technology is rapidly advancing and is likely to profoundly advance healthcare delivery. Here are some examples.

Interactive physician patient data sharing1. 5G technology will empower a new progressive healthcare system, starting with better data storage and traceability that make medical service easier for everyone to get. The advanced 5G system will let patients and medical professionals download data faster, with more bandwidth and reduced time lag—all of which will help everyone manage more connected devices. Medical professionals can then control chronic illnesses and lower healthcare costs using remote health monitoring. Physicians will get data in real-time to treat patients appropriately; and patients will communicate data throughout the 5G network, using patient portals to check test results and pictures, access remote care, and locate care plan information.

Wearable patient devices1. 5G will facilitate a growing network of Internet of Things (IoT) devices and other wearables for remote patient monitoring. Advanced 5G provides dependable connectivity, allowing medical staff to make rapid health care decisions remotely for more patients. It may also open the way for remote imaging for instruments such as X-rays and MRIs.

AI-assisted diagnosis4,5. 5G, paired with artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning, will help diagnose illnesses such as cancer, heart disease, skin blemishes, and other conditions. AI systems will deliver results much faster, making diagnostics more accessible to patients. Plus, machine learning will customize medication. Since everyone responds to a therapy differently, algorithms will help simplify statistics gathering and identify factors suggesting how a patient will react to a treatment.

Remote video monitoring and treatment1. 5G network technology will enhance 360-degree video and enable cordless live streaming. This will allow medical practitioners to get extensive experience throughout their training and when treating or operating on patients.

Which hospital is 5G enabled?

The Palo Alto VA Medical Center in Palo Alto, California will become the first completely 5G-enabled hospital in the U.S., according to a July 24th, 2023 Axios article6. The article revealed that the federal government has made 5G a strategic priority; and Thomas Osborne, director of the Veterans Health Administration’s Center for Collaborative Healthcare Innovation, said the Palo Alto hospital will serve as a test bed for taking 5G hospitals nationwide.

When 5G is fully implemented at the Palo Alto flagship site, it will feature:

  • augmented-reality-assisted presurgical guidance with 3D X-ray vision and CT scans superimposed on patients’ bodies to guide physicians in surgery
  • VR-assisted 3D models of human organs that surgeons and medical interns in training can walk into, to refine their grasp of how the body works
  • holographic projections in patients’ homes for remote caregiver visits

What is AT&T’s role in future 5G medical applications?

Among many other AT&T initiatives, a private, AT&T 5G network with multi-access edge computing (MEC) is powering the Lawrence J. Ellison Institute for Transformative Medicine 7,8, an 80,000 square-foot medical center with smart technologies integrated throughout to create a connected, immersive, and collaborative environment for patients and researchers.

Fast data speeds, low latency, and high capacity combined with cutting-edge medical technologies are helping the Institute reimagine healthcare connectivity and make each patient’s clinic experience more successful. Here are some examples of emerging trends and devices.

  • Wearable sensors will let the Institute track how well—and how often—patients and staff communicate, to help improve care.
  • The smart facility will offer personalized, high-touch patient care, such as knowing what type of music to play and lighting to use at a patient’s appointment.
  • The 5G’s dedicated bandwidth will allow more devices to connect wirelessly with high quality—everything from Internet of Things (IoT) equipment to sensors for handheld devices. That will allow huge data file transfer for things such as 3D tumor imagery.
  • The private, on-site 5G network will let the Institute capture and analyze data faster and more securely and make on-the-spot decisions.

What is 5G Internet of Medical Things?

The 5G Internet of Medical Things (IoMT) is a 5G-driven network of internet-connected medical devices, hardware infrastructure, and software that will link healthcare information technology9. Sometimes called IoT in healthcare, IoMT will let wireless and remote devices communicate securely for rapid and flexible medical data analysis. IoMT’s impact is likely to be enormous. Some healthcare analysts expect it to grow into an industry valued at $861.3 billion by 20309.

Here are examples of how IoMT is beginning to be used in healthcare.

  • IoMT is slowly weaving itself into healthcare for doctors and patients9. Ultrasounds, thermometers, glucose monitors, electrocardiograms, and more are becoming connected to allow you to track your own health—crucial when you need follow-up doctor appointments.
  • Many hospitals have started using smart beds through their IoMT 5G network10. Such a bed can sense a patient’s presence and automatically adjust itself to the right angle and pressure for proper support without needing a nurse to do it.
  • Physicians can also use Internet of Things (IoT) devices to monitor patients and collect data used to make healthcare more customized and preventive than ever before.
  • The IoMT could also help transform home patient care. Some patients don’t take their medications at the right doses or at the right times. Smart medication home dispensers could automatically upload information to the cloud and alert doctors when patients don’t take their meds. This technology could also let doctors know about potentially dangerous patient behavior.

As you can see, advanced 5G medical applications are radically changing how healthcare is delivered and how we will get high-quality and accurate diagnosis and treatment in the near- and mid-tem- future. To learn more, visit this page.

This article is AT&T sponsored content written by Robert Rivenbark, an AT&T contractor and a TechBuzz contributor. The statements in this article are his own and don’t necessarily represent the positions, strategies, or opinions of AT&T.



3 Top 5G limitations and challenges for businesses | TechTarget

4 S. Latif, J. Qadir, S. Farooq, M.A. Imran. How 5g wireless (and concomitant technologies) will revolutionise healthcare? Future Internet, 9 (4) (2017), p. 93

5 M. Chen, J. Yang, Y. Hao, S. Mao, K. Hwang. A 5G cognitive system for healthcare. Big Data and Cognitive Computing, 1 (1) (2017), p. 2

6 First in Axios: VA hospital goes fully 5G


8 Home – Ellison Institute of Technology (

9 What is IoMT? | Ordr



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