Indian operator Bharti Airtel has teamed up with Apollo Hospitals and Cisco to create a 5G Connected Ambulance designed to increase access to healthcare and save lives in emergency situations. The demonstration was conducted in the city of Bengaluru over the 5G trial spectrum allotted to Airtel by India’s Department of Telecom.
Airtel reports that the custom-designed 5G Connected Ambulance is equipped with the latest medical equipment, patient monitoring applications, and telemetry devices that transmit the patient health data to the hospital in real-time. In addition, it is also equipped with onboard cameras, camera-based headgear, and body cams for paramedic staff, all connected to the Airtel 5G network. The 5G Connected Ambulance will soon be also equipped with AR/VR capabilities, the operator added.
The 5G Connected Ambulance is designed to act as an extension of the emergency room. The ambulance is always connected to the hospital, as Airtel’s 5G network relays the geolocation of every ambulance to the hospital’s command center to ensure the nearest ambulance reaches the critical patient in time. Also, the ambulance transmits the patient’s complete telemetry data, including vitals, in real time to doctors and other staff at the hospital. This is designed to allow doctors in the ER to make faster decisions and advise the paramedics to administer required aid while on the move. It also prepares the hospital staff to better manage the patient on arrival and save precious time.
With real-time camera feed available, the paramedics in the ambulance can collaborate with the ER doctors at the hospital who are equipped with technologies such as AV/VR to undertake basic procedures, if necessary. The doctors can virtually guide the paramedics to carry out the procedure and save lives, according to Airtel.
Among the connected services made possible by the IoT in conjunction with the new generation of high-speed networks are medical applications such as this one offered by Bharti Airtel. In order to achieve it, the Indian mobile operator has partnered with a hospital system (for medical and related technical expertise) and technology developer Cisco (for aspects of the infrastructure).
The 5G Connected Ambulance, according to Airtel’s description of its capacities, allows interventions to be taken that ordinarily would have to wait until the patient arrives at the hospital. The delays involved in transporting a patient to the hospital can cost lives, or at least greatly complicate care, so Airtel’s solution could be transformative. And even if paramedics do not use remote AR/VR to perform unusual procedures in the ambulance, at least they can convey patient metrics to the hospital so that it will be better prepared to receive the patient under time pressure. And on the most basic level, the 5G Connected Ambulance system helps guide the ambulance to the quickest route to the hospital.
From the operator’s point of view, such a service may not be the highest-paying application of 5G IoT and related services, but it is a important one in terms of social utility and thus enhances the operator’s standing in the community and ultimately in the national market. Furthermore, having an exclusive on this technology puts the operator in an advantageous position with regard to its MNO competitors. Finally, given that many of the potential clients are large hospital systems, there is likely a significant amount of revenue that ultimately could be generated.