With the recent developments in robotics, it has become possible to perform surgery from a different geographical location to that of the patient. Remote surgery, also known as robotic telesurgery, is useful when a qualified surgeon cannot be present in the hospital at a particular time. When this is the case, a remote surgeon can use tools to control a robot, which in turn performs the surgery on the patient. The surgeon is supported by a screen or VR glasses, as well as receiving audio feedback.
Although remote surgery is already possible in some situations, it is limited by high communication latency and overhead. Latency can create issues such as unsynchronised information – the visual, auditory and haptic feedback might be transferred at different speeds. 5G’s reliable and ultra-fast connection could drastically improve the possibilities by lowering latency to 1-2 ms. Several remote surgeries, including spinal and endoscopic surgeries, have already been performed successfully using a 5G connection.
Similar to telesurgery, 5G networks could also improve telementored surgery. In this case, surgeons with particular expertise could advise those performing the operation via a video connection. A similar system could be implemented in 5G-connected ambulances. A physician would be able to instruct the ambulance team on how to best care for a patient via video. Such systems could greatly improve the overall quality of care provided to patients.