EMS, healthcare solutions highlighted in latest Verizon 5G initiative
Applications designed to aid healthcare and emergency medical services (EMS) outcomes are the focus of current testing in Verizon’s 5G First Responder Lab that is scheduled to extend through the end of the year, according to a company official.
Nick Nilan, Verizon’s director of public-sector product development, said the company’s previous work in the 5G First Responder Lab generally showcased some of the innovation enabled by Verizon’s 5G Ultra Wideband network, which leverages the carrier’s vast millimeter-wave spectrum portfolio to deliver unprecedented wireless connectivity speeds. In this fourth round of the 5G initiative, Verizon officials hope to develop solutions that answer key questions faced by the EMS community.
“If something bad is about to happen or happens, how do you make sure that you’re aware of that sooner, whether that’s the victim or the emergency services?” Nilan said during an interview with IWCE’s Urgent Communications. “And how do make sure that the emergency medical technicians that are on their way to the incident have as much information as possible on the way to the scene?
“The technology that we can leverage on 5G has a lot of opportunities that improve the response times and improve the situational awareness to—we hope—save lives.”
Verizon decided to extend the length of time it will spend with the current group of partner companies—known as a cohort—in the hopes of developing more integrated solutions, according to Nilan.
“The nice thing about this last cohort is that we’re actually going to be together for six months—we’ve committed to through the end of the year to work together, so it’s a lot longer than the 12 weeks that we’ve had in the past,” he said. “We knew that there were going to be some integrations potentially and some bigger challenges that we were trying to tackle..”
According to a Verizon press release, the five companies participating in this cohort—the fourth group to go through the 5G First Responder Lab—are;
- “Biotricity: Focuses on near real-time remote medical monitoring;
- Rave Mobile Safety: Offers a critical-communications and data-sharing platform;
- DispatchHealth: Provides on-call medical care to your door;
- Vuzix: Uses augmented reality to better inform First Responders; and
- Visionable: Provides a platform for near real-time medical collaboration.”
“With each of these companies, we’re leveraging the exciting solutions they already have in the market and bringing that into a 5G environment,” Nilan said.
Solutions like the augmented-reality glasses provided by Vuzix may not be of practical use for public safety without the reliable high-speed connectivity that Verizon’s 5G Ultra Wideband provides.
“Vuzix does augmented reality,” Nilan said. “They have glasses that are very lightweight, has a camera up front, and has display for officers to be able to have video streaming from their eye level, rather than their chest level, like a body-worn camera does traditionally.
“It also [allows an agency] to give them information without having to take their eyes off of a suspect, in a police case. Or, in an EMS case, that EMT doesn’t have to take their hands off of that patient, so they get a heads-up display about what they’re seeing overlaid on the work they actually have to do.”
In addition to providing higher data speeds and lower latency, 5G is designed to support several times more devices within a cell sector than previous wireless technologies. This characteristic is especially helpful in the medical arena, because it means more information can be shared from connected monitoring tools, whether they are specialized medical sensors or commercial wearable devices, Nilan said.
DispatchHealth could be a prime example of this benefit, Nilan said.
“These things happen today,” Nilan sad. “We can do connected health, telemedicine or telehealth on the 4G network. But with a number of devices on the network and then the dependency on the latency connectivity of the network, I think 5G is going to offer an explosion of that type of technology, and Dispatch Health really sits on the precipice of enabling more of that telemedicine remote diagnostics.”
Biotricity and Visionable also depend on monitoring patient information remotely, although they are designed for very different use cases, according to Nilan.
Biotricity’s solutions are geared toward patients needing long-term care—for instance, for a person recovering from surgery or with a chronic condition—so they stay at home while their conditions can be monitored remotely by healthcare professionals, Nilan said. Visionable is designed for use by EMS when responding to a patient during an emergency response.
“Visionable is more about how you do real-time video collaboration for healthcare, especially for those EMTs in the back of an ambulance,” Nilan said. “That’s what we’re really excited about with them, connecting the EMTs in an ambulance to the ER or a doctor, so they can get better information about how that patient on the way in [to a healthcare facility].”
Integrating information from all of these applications through the Rave Mobile Safety platform is among the goals that Verizon officials hope to achieve during this cohort, Nilan said.
“We’re really excited about this one, and we’ll see what the next six months bring,” Nilan said. “The neat thing about being at the front end of some technology with agile development is that you don’t know what the next six months is going to bring.
“We have an idea what the problem statement is: How do I reduce time during that golden hour, and how do I save lives, in general? Hopefully, the work that we’re doing can achieve that objective. We’re really excited about these five companies—they’re great innovators.”
Verizon also announced that it is accepting applications from entities that want to participate in the company’s fifth cohort of the 5G First Responder Lab, which will be focused on fire-response and situational-awareness solutions. Those participants will be selected during the fourth quarter of this year.