As healthcare facilities embrace telehealth alternatives to traditional office visits, what is the role of technology in driving a full-scale rollout, driving patient care, and managing costs? This push may have been spotlighted because of the COVID-19 pandemic but skilled doctors and nurses are also in short supply with the Association of American Medical Colleges predicting a deficit of up to 121,900 physicians by 2032. EE Huei Sin is the Vice President/General Manager of Keysight Technologies’ General Electronics Measurement Solutions and comments on the state of telehealth and 5G, and what healthcare facilities are working toward to better leverage technology.
What are the current technology challenges hospital and healthcare facilities are facing regarding technology powering remote patient visits?
- Telehealth today is limited by the network capacity to manage massive telehealth data. Ultra-reliable, high-speed, wide-bandwidth, and low latency network required to support telehealth.
- Remote patient monitoring (RPM): real-time monitoring, streaming and analysis of patient data from massive medical devices (IoMT).
- Virtual consultation via high definition video: two-way real-time video conferencing between doctor and patient for remote diagnosis.
- Connected smart ambulance: real-time streaming of patient data and emergency consultation via video to support on-site paramedics.
- Remote surgery: robot control and emergency signals require extremely low latency besides real-time streaming on video and patient data.
- Hospitals also need secure and efficient health systems to manage electronic medical records (EMRs), patient and hospital workflow, and connected devices.
- Patient data privacy and security, especially when allowing external mobile access to EMRs.
- Efficient health systems to streamline workflow, engage community, and advance patient care.
Does this technology meet current needs for bandwidth, connectivity, security, etc., and what needs to change?
- 5G technology was designed to support a large amount of connectivity and complex use cases such as telehealth.
- Enhanced mobile broadband (eMBB) for high bandwidth to support real-time video and patient data streaming.
- Ultra-reliable low-latency communications (URLLC) for time critical communication such as telesurgery and tele-ICU.
- Massive machine type communications (mMTC) enables millions of devices communicating incorporating low data rates, less energy and lower costs.
- 5G supports network slicing to segmentize the networks for seamless resource management and better data security.
- What needs to change (from all stakeholders)?
- Develop more 5G infrastructure to widen the coverage, especially in rural areas to help local communities benefit from telehealth.
- Unleash more innovations in healthcare applications, in tandem with other technologies such as AI, ML, AR/VR and edge computing.
- More new medical device development, especially wearables and hearables, to leverage 5G technology for remote patient monitoring.
- Encourage government incentives to drive transformation, and regulatory bodies to accelerate 5G standardization and roll-out plan.
- Keysight’s role and solution to help addressing the technical challenges in implementing and growing the adoption of telehealth.
- Keysight offers end-to-end 5G solutions from early design to development, validation, manufacturing and accelerate commercial deployment.
- Addressing the 5Cs of IoT (see attached image), especially for mission-critical medical devices: connectivity, continuity, compliance, coexistence, and cybersecurity.
- Network security and visibility (monitoring) solutions to minimize security breaches, increase patient privacy, and improve network performance.
- Software test automation and data analytical tools used to improve the healthcare and connectivity system efficiency, as well as its performance.
How will this change following the COVID-19 pandemic?
- Even before COVID-19, we have seen collaborations between hospital and telecommunication companies to setup 5G capabilities at medical centers.
- There is also a clear convergence of consumer and medical devices, and rapid growth in Internet-of-Medical Things (IoMT) for telehealth remote monitoring.
- Consumer electronics companies entering wearable medical device market, such as Apple, Huawei, and Samsung >> higher values
- Medical device companies launching portable devices to be worn outside a medical facility, such as Medtronic and ResMed >> higher volume
- Coronavirus accelerated the rise of telehealth. Doctors and patients turn to telehealth during the outbreak for routine medical care without risking a visit to hospital.
- US FAIR Health reported that the insurance telehealth claim lines increased more than 40 times from March 2019 to March 2020.
- US Medicare has expanded its coverage to include telehealth consultations and removed the reimbursement restrictions for COVID-19.
- Governments, insurers and healthcare providers working together to accelerate the adoption of telehealth services during this pandemic.
- According to Frost & Sullivan, demand for telehealth will soar this year as the COVID-19 pandemic disrupts the practice of healthcare delivery.
- Forecasts seven-fold growth for US telehealth market by 2025, resulting in a 38% CAGR for the next 5-year period, and 64% growth in 2020.
- Near-term trends for telehealth post-COVID-19 pandemic:
- More hospitals adopting 5G technology and expand the telehealth services beyond teleconsultation and coverage to rural areas.
- More innovations in medical services leveraging 5G, AI, and edge computing to allow more immediate and actionable (real-time) patient monitoring.
Huei Sin is the Vice President/General Manager of Keysight Technologies’ General Electronics Measurement Solutions, and the Vice President of Keysight Education.
She is responsible in establishing the solutions unit with global presence and managing a portfolio of businesses focusing on measurement solutions for two broad base markets, the General Electronics and Education markets. The General Electronics segment provides solutions for consumer electronics, healthcare and industrial & process control, and the Education eco-system comprises both teaching and research labs.
Huei Sin possesses extensive international experience in managing a diverse portfolio of businesses in the general purpose, electronics measurement and semiconductor industries, where she held various roles in marketing, manufacturing, order fulfillment and business management. Prior to her current appointment, Huei Sin was the Vice President/General Manager of Keysight Technologies’ General-Purpose Electronics Measurement Division.
Huei Sin holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Microelectronics & Physics from Campbell University, North Carolina.