The health sector in Kenya is poised for higher usage of telemedicine including remote diagnosis and treatment as the country expands its national 5G network footprint. With a ratio of one doctor for every 5,725 people, against the World Health Organization’s recommendation of 1 for every 1,000, technology is expected to bridge this shortage and improve access and the speed of treatment even as additional medical facilities are set up.
Speaking when he visited the Huawei stand at the Kenya Innovation Week, President William Ruto noted that innovative applications of technology in medicine present the country with an opportunity to do things differently, particularly recognizing Kenya’ pole position as a leader in technology adoption.
“We are committed to developing relevant policies that will nurture and stimulate innovation since we appreciate the power of technology to accelerate productivity, generate gainful employment and create wealth for millions of ordinary people,” he said while following a telemedicine demonstration on Huawei’s IdeaHub smart board in which a doctor also used Huawei’s Cloud Meeting to communicate with him from a hospital.
When connected, 5G is expected to improve the reach and quality of healthcare in rural and remote areas. It promises a new health ecosystem, one that can meet patient and healthcare provider needs accurately, efficiently, conveniently, cost-effectively, and at scale. Potentially game-changing use cases for 5G-based applications tend to involve AI and big data including how health practitioners and patients will access vital pieces of medical information like the results of CT and MRI scans.
Expanding 5G for healthcare is more than improved data transfer, security, broadband access, and advancements in technology. These benefits add up to an overall improved quality of care for telemedicine providers, and most importantly, patients. The increased bandwidth and low latency of 5G connectivity allows for higher resolution video and images, increasing the quality and value of virtual interaction. This not only reduces the need to come into a medical office when unnecessary or unsafe, but can greatly benefit remote patients who may not have easy access to a medical facility or hospital.
The President also witnessed the use of 5G to enable a doctor to communicate with nurses on an ambulance to remotely support the patient with the help of ultra-high-definition video footage and vital data. He pledged to galvanise the digital economy and emphasized the government’s commitment to mainstreaming innovation into public and private sectors including enhancing the uptake of emerging technologies.