Indian telecoms giant Bharti Airtel has announced it has collaborated with Apollo Hospitals and Cisco to demonstrate the potential of 5G-connected ambulances to support patient care during transit to medical facilities.

The trio’s ‘5G Connected Ambulance’ demonstration took place in the Indian city of Bengaluru saw the group highlight the ambulance’s various patient monitoring applications and medical equipment which have been designed to relay patient information back to the hospital more swiftly in real-time over 5G.

According to Airtel, the real-time connection will allow doctors back at the hospital to make remote diagnostic decisions and direct the paramedics to perform emergency procedures in the ambulance if required. It will also allow the hospital staff to be better prepared for patients arrival at the medical facility with the set up also including onboard cameras and wearable cameras for the paramedics.

Beyond transmitting patient data directly, Airtel suggested that the 5G network will also allow for more optimised callouts and the low latency connectivity will allow for more accurate geolocation for ambulances in the field show the nearest ambulance can respond for emergencies.

Dr Sangita Reddy, joint managing director at 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. 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.”

With the Indian government expected to hold its first 5G spectrum auction in June, the ambulance trial has been conducted using temporary licences granted by the government last year.

Airtel’s ambulance trial follows similar projects in the UK including BT having demonstrated a remote diagnostic procedure using a 5G connected ambulance.

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Author: Richard Hook