Faster remote medical diagnosis with 5G tech

LANGKAWI, 18 Jan 2020:

The fifth-generation (5G) technology in medicine will allow remote diagnosis of critical patients and speeds up treatment, thus increasing their chances of survival.

Sultanah Maliha Hospital Emergency and Trauma Department head Dr Roshidah Rosman said via this technology, real-time transfer of patient data to the hospital can be done from where the patient is being diagnosed.

“Paramedics will diagnose the patient faster using an electrocardiogram (ECG) and ultrasound scan in an ambulance and the scan image will be displayed on a screen that can be viewed on a tablet or hospital computer screen.

“Via the 5G technology, the process of obtaining the diagnosis using ECG will be faster and save up to one minute instead of two to three minutes (via 4G or 3G technology),” she said here today.

Dr Roshidah said paramedics in the ambulance could also communicate directly with a specialist at the hospital and when the patient arrives, follow-up treatment could be continued as the first aid diagnosis has already been done while the patient was on the way to the hospital.

Sultanah Maliha Hospital is one of the locations undergoing a 5G technology demonstration project in Langkawi in collaboration with Digi telecommunications company, since December.

Dr Roshidah added that the use of the technology also enabled the hospital’s medical team to directly monitor the patient’s condition on the way to the hospital through high-definition visual and audio displays from cameras mounted in the ambulance.

Sharing her experience, Dr Roshidah said the hospital’s medical team found the technology very practical, especially in treating a patient having a heart attack.

“The journey to the hospital may take 20 to 30 minutes, but early diagnosis and saving time like this indirectly increases the patient’s chances of survival,” she explained.

In addition, she said 5G also enabled medical teams in certain hospitals to communicate and consult directly with specialists at leading hospitals on treatment and related matters.

Commercialisation of the 5G technology is expected to be rolled out in the third quarter of this year, and will not only redefine connectivity in the country but also bring positive impact to the economy and elevate Malaysia as one of the pioneers in the Asean region to implement 5G.

Meanwhile, claims by certain parties the use of 5G technology could be detrimental to health are baseless, experts say.

University Teknologi Malaysia Faculty of Engineering Senior Lecturer Prof Dr Tharek Abdul Rahman said the technology uses radio frequencies which do not produce harmful radiation such as x-ray radiation.

“People need to understand that there are two types of radiation – ionising and non-ionising, of which it is the ionising type, such as x-rays and radioactive, that can cause cancer.

“5G non-ionising radiation will only cause heating that is insufficient to cause long-term impact on body tissues.”

Tharek said radiation generated by 5G technology also encompasses energy that is 1,000 times lesser in strength compared to solar energy.

The energy from the sun is in the safe category because it encompasses non-ionising radiation and 5G is 1,000 times lower – indicating it is safe radiation.

“According to a WHO (World Health Organisation) report, over 25,000 research articles published over the past 30 years have proved that exposure to low-frequency radio or non-ionising rays had no negative impact on human health.”

Sharing the same viewpoint is senior lecturer in the Faculty of Technology and Information Science, Universiti Malaysia Malaysia, Prof Dr Abdullah Mohd Zin who said claims that 5G radiation would cause detrimental health impact is a misunderstanding which needs to be corrected.

“There is no solid evidence linking 5G to health risks.”

Meanwhile, Malaysia Public Health Experts Association president Datuk Dr Zainal Ariffin Omar suggested that more campaigns be conducted to raise awareness among the public about the functions and implications of 5G.

“5G technology emits electromagnetic radiation that is very similar to other existing technologies.

“I hope the government will create awareness and provide current and up-to-date research information from centres around the world on the impact of 5G on human health.”

– Bernama