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£1m 5G healthcare boost for North East

A one-million-pound project is to explore how 5G technologies can improve and speed up the delivery of healthcare services in the North East.

Businesses that specialise in 5G technologies are being invited by the Centre for Process Innovation (CPI) to put forward their ideas to improve patient flow and discharge services through a 5G innovation acceleration programme, putting the North East at the forefront of a technological revolution in healthcare.

Research suggests that 5G networks can transfer large amounts of data over 100 times faster than existing networks like 4G and Long-Term Evolution (LTE).

When combined with healthcare technologies, 5G has the potential to allow faster treatment for patients, more efficient planning and, crucially, could lead to cost savings.

The project stands to cement the North East’s reputation as a flag bearer for digital solutions in health and care in the UK.

Cllr Nick Kemp, portfolio holder for economy at the North East Combined Authority and leader of Newcastle City Council, said: “The North East is home to a growing and thriving digital sector, with cutting-edge businesses creating good, high-skilled jobs and tackling some of the crucial challenges facing our region and country. Our ambition is to become a region of excellence for 5G technology, and the combined authority continues to back innovative businesses to adopt technology, scale-up and grow.

“This is crucial to the North East’s industrial strategy, where we want to build a stronger, more inclusive economy which delivers better public services and ensures everyone benefits from growth. This project provides a rare opportunity for businesses to test technology in health care and has the potential to transform services for patients. I strongly encourage businesses in digital and health to apply.”

By working with CPI, businesses can test their ideas and gain access to early-stage adoption pathways into health and care settings using a competition-down selection process.

The 5G innovations that show high potential to improve health outcomes will be selected to be tested and upscaled in CPI’s 5G healthcare testbed environment. The final two successful businesses that demonstrate the greatest clinical and economic impact will then move forward to be delivered in a real-world healthcare setting, such as a hospital or care home within the North East. Should they prove successful, these 5G enabled innovations could have the potential for adoption spread across the UK’s 42 Integrated Care Boards.

The North East Combined Authority has awarded the fund, which will be shared between CPI, Northumbria Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust, The North East and North Cumbria Integrated Care Board, Health Innovation North East and North Cumbria, Boldyn Networks and Waymark.

Steven Bagshaw, Grand Challenge lead at CPI, added: “By speeding up and increasing the ability to transfer large amounts of patient data, 5G technologies will provide the opportunity for new digital innovations to come to market. These innovations will help reduce the administrative and time pressures that confront those working in healthcare settings, and ultimately free up more time for doctors and nurses to spend with patients where it matters the most.

“It represents a huge step forward for the way we deliver health services. For many of us in the UK, it might feel like 5G is already a part of daily life, but the application of digital technologies in healthcare is much more complex. We must strive to take advantage of these technologies to provide the best possible care for patients and make step-change improvements for staff in the NHS and wider social care.”

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