How a 5G-connected Ambulance could transform healthcare

Indian telecom Bharti Airtel has partnered with Cisco and Apollo hospitals to create an ambulance that uses 5G technology to transform healthcare

Bharti Airtel, India's leading communications solutions provider, has partnered with Apollo Hospitals and Cisco to create a 5G Connected Ambulance that transforms access to healthcare and save lives in emergency situations. The demonstration was conducted in Bengaluru over the 5G trial spectrum allotted to Airtel by the Department of Telecom.

The 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 Bodycams for paramedic staff – all connected to the ultra-fast & low latency Airtel 5G network. The company says that it will be further enabled with technologies like AR/VR.

Ajay Chitkara, Director & CEO, Airtel Business, Bharti Airtel said: "5G is a transformational technology, and this is yet another demonstration by Airtel as to how collaborations can unlock the potential of digital platforms for the good of humanity. Healthcare is one of the most promising use cases for 5G, and we are delighted to deepen our partnerships with Apollo Hospitals and Cisco to bring some innovative use cases for the Indian market."

Dr. Sangita Reddy, Joint Managing Director, Apollo Hospitals Group, said: "Apollo Hospitals have been evangelists of connected ambulances and using these to reduce mortality and utilise the Golden Hour to the benefit of patients. The criticality of the 'Golden hour' is well known. It can mean the difference between life and death for seriously ill or trauma patients in an emergency. The Golden hour is impacted by the facilities in an ambulance and the distance from the Hospital. Studies show that an increased journey distance to the Hospital is associated with an increased risk of mortality, with a 10‐km increase in straight‐line distance associated with around a 1% absolute increase in mortality. Studies also indicate that pre-hospital time management should become a management objective. These insights propelled us to collaborate with Airtel on the 5G connected ambulance project and use 5G in order to utilise the disruption-free, lag-free connectivity it provides.”

She also said that “this will help save many lives as timely treatment can be started even in the Ambulance itself. The 5G connected ambulance is testament to Apollo Hospitals' commitment to utilise the power to technology in healthcare for the benefit of patients."

When a critical patient is enroute to the hospital and every second makes a difference, the 5G Connected Ambulance acts as an extension of emergency room and enables the following:

  • Always connected to the Hospital: The high-speed, low latency 5G network relays the Geo-location of every Ambulance to the hospital's command center to ensure the nearest Ambulance reaches the critical patient to save the patient’s Golden hour time. Also, Ambulance transmits the patient's complete telemetry data, including vitals, in real-time to doctors and experts at the hospital. This allows the doctors at ER to make faster decisions and advise the paramedics in ambulance 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, Airtel claims.
  • Transports doctors virtually to the Ambulance: With real-time camera feed available, the paramedics in ambulance can use the cameras to collaborate with the ER doctors at the hospital who are equipped with technologies like AV/VR to undertake basic procedures, if necessary. The doctors can virtually guide the paramedic to carry out the procedure and save precious lives.

Anand Bhaskar, Managing Director, Service Provider Business, Cisco India & SAARC, said, "Cisco's partnership with Airtel, through our Country Digitisation Acceleration program, is a step towards bringing the immense possibilities of 5G to life by improving the performance of critical-care applications. 5G will be a game-changer in enabling new use cases and improving efficiency across every industry and specifically in the healthcare sector, as 5G will arm doctors with actionable insights to augment patient monitoring and treatment."

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