5G ambulance could allow doctors to remotely guide paramedics

A demonstration showed real-time interactions between an EMS provider and a doctor two miles apart using 5G and VR technologies


By EMS1 Staff

UNITED KINGDOM — Virtual reality and 5G technology could allow paramedics treating patients in ambulances to work in conjunction with doctors at hospitals in real time.

A live demonstration by the University Hospitals Birmingham (UHB) and British telecommunications company BT showed how a doctor can remotely assess, monitor and help treat patients through a specially equipped and connected ambulance, ZDNet reported.

A robotic glove worn by a paramedic allowed a doctor to remotely perform an ultrasound scan on a mannequin representing a patient during a demonstration by the University Hospitals Birmingham and telecommunications company BT. (Photo/BT)
A robotic glove worn by a paramedic allowed a doctor to remotely perform an ultrasound scan on a mannequin representing a patient during a demonstration by the University Hospitals Birmingham and telecommunications company BT. (Photo/BT)

Operating over BT’s 5G network, cameras gave UHB Clinical Director Tom Clutton-Block a 180-degree view of the ambulance from two miles away.

A robotic glove worn by a paramedic in the rig was controlled by the doctor to perform an ultrasound scan on a mannequin representing a patient.

“(It’s) like having a hand in the ambulance,” Clutton-Block said.

Corresponding VR headsets worn by both doctor and paramedic also gave the remote physician a closer view from within the rig.   

Clutton-Block said the VR technology is relatively inexpensive compared to other medical equipment, and that having virtual eyes and ears in the ambulance can help a hospital be prepared to receive a patient who may need surgery.

However, it can also help medical professionals determine whether hospital intervention will be necessary at all.

“To improve the efficiency of healthcare, we need to understand that not everyone needs to come to the hospital,” Clutton-Block said. “With this technology, we can decide a lot better whether a wound should be healed on the spot, or if it requires further assistance.”

Join the discussion

Copyright © 2019 ems1.com. All rights reserved.