Why is our organisation testing this new digital health and social care equipment?

The Liverpool 5G Consortium (a group of small health technology developers, NHS, social care organisations and universities, led by Sensor City) recently won £3.5 million from the Govt to take part in its 5G Testbed and Trials Programme. The programme explores the benefits of using 5G to support emerging technologies that need fast, reliable and cheap connectivity.

The Liverpool 5G Consortium is running a health and social care testbed as we believe this offers the biggest potential gains to people’s welfare across the city. Our trial also explores whether providing 5G at a lower cost (or free) to digitally deprived areas, where people don’t always have internet, brings additional benefits. Home-based digital health applications will be more reliably supported by a 5G network.

Liverpool’s 5G Consortium is well placed to pilot these 5G health applications as we have existing relationships with health and social care providers, via previous projects like the council’s ‘Stop and Go’ project. Our EHealth Cluster also links local tech companies (who design digital health applications) with our hospitals, council and service users, ensuring applications are well researched, relevant and can be meaningfully integrated.

 

What are the benefits to care services and patients of taking part in these pilots?

We are piloting a series of 11 digital health and social care applications/ projects across the Liverpool (running between Sensor City, Royal Liverpool and Broadgreen Hospital and parts of Kensington.)

Each trial/pilot has measurable social outcomes and has been designed by companies with experience in creating innovative, effective health and social care applications. Our connected work, through the EHealth Cluster, means they have been designed with current health and social care objectives in mind:

  • to enable people to live independently at home for longer
  • to enable people to manage their own wellbeing and medication more effectively – reducing the cost of innapropriate and wasted medication
  • freeing up NHS and social care staff to carry out necessary and meaningful work
  • enabling people to transition from hospital to home quicker, giving them a better chance of staying healthy and freeing up valuable hospital beds.

Establishing any link between cheaper/free 5G for digitally deprived communities and improved digital health care outcomes, could help establish this provision as standard.

 

If we see good outcomes from the digital health interventions, will we be able to keep them?

If a digital health or social care application was proven to improve health/social care outcomes, reduce costs and/or ease the burden on service provider staff, we would always aim to keep it in place.

 

Why is DCMS funding the six UK testbeds and what is 5G?

The 5G programme is designed to help fund projects across the UK that can help to identify any issues and challenges in using 5G, across a number of sectors. It’s hoped this will bring forth the benefits of having a 5G network and ensure that we are better prepared as a country to run one.

5G is the 5th generation of wireless network technologies, not just the latest version of mobile phone technology. It is much faster than previous networks, with vastly improved data transfer.

5G is an ultra-reliable, low-latency communications network (available nearly 100% of the time). This makes it perfect for supporting the Internet of Things (IoT – basically all of the devices we use, carry around and need for work, which are supported by the internet.)

It also supports sensor technology, which plays an increasing role in the emerging technologies used to treat and support people in health and social care settings.

5G is not simply about faster internet connections, it can be tailored to meet the needs of the people or services using it. 5G is expected to give users the sense of always having access to high quality and rapid networks.


It is generally agreed that 5G will deliver better mobile broadband services and massive machine to machine connectivity, which will enable advanced manufacturing. By investing 
in 5G, the Govt aims to:

  • stimulate market development (the creation of new technology, devices and applications like those we are trialing in Liverpool) – creating a 5G infrastructure in the UK
  • create new opportunities for businesses, whilst developing the skills we need to attract investment
  • ensure the UK has an ‘early mover advantage’.

 

Are there any known health risks associated with 5G technology?

The Department of Health does not believe 5G technology poses a significant increase in risk to people’s health and says:

Over the decades, there has been a general trend towards increasing numbers of smaller transmitters that individually provide services to smaller geographical areas and which have reducing radiated powers. Against this background, many measurements have been made and these continue to show that exposures of the general public to radio waves are well within the international health-related guideline levels that are used in the UK.

Overall exposure is expected to remain low relative to guidelines and as such there should be no consequences for public health.

 

What organisations are in the Liverpool 5G Test Bed Consortium?

Our members led by Sensor City include: Blu Wireless Technology, AIMES, Inventya, DefProc, Digicredis, CGA Simulation, Liverpool City Council, Royal Liverpool and Broadgreen University Hospitals NHS Trust (RLBUHT), Liverpool University, and Liverpool John Moores University. Liverpool City Region EHealth Cluster will support the consortium.

 

What are the 11 trials and test beds?

  • Telehealth in a Box – improving communication between hospitals and the community
  • Cloud Based Clinical Mobility – using 5G to accelerate mobile solutions
  • enabling the new and innovative hospital (RLBUHT) to become a test bed for SMEs
  • Pharmacy in the Home – on call access to pharmacy assistant for vulnerable people in their own home
  • use of ambient IoT sensors in home care services – keeping people living independently at home for longer
  • Push To Talk – a device to reduce social isolation
  • Reducing Loneliness in Older People – using emerging technologies and apps to bridge physical distance, using 5G
  • Remote Hydration Monitoring for vulnerable people;
  • consent-based trusted analytics/research (TAE/TRE) environment, with access for researchers/analysts across the UK
  • Chromatic Cameras in Home Care Settings – comparing patterns of behaviour at home
  • Optimising access to and use of 5G networks for multiple IoT devices.

 

How long will the Liverpool 5G Testbed trial last?

The Liverpool 5G Test Bed is funded for one year in the first instance, by the Department for Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS.) There will be opportunities for the Liverpool 5G Testbed Consortium and individual members of the consortium to apply for further funding for their research, products and projects beyond the lifespan of the initial programme.  

 

What benefits will the Liverpool 5G Testbed bring to Liverpool?

As one of the 5G Testbed consortia, Liverpool becomes part of the greater 5G UK network and eco-system, which provides opportunities for our tech companies, health and social care providers to be at the cutting edge of research, development, deployment and markets for products.

 

Can other organisations work with the Liverpool 5G Test Bed?

As the work we do develops and grows there may be opportunities for SMEs to work alongside us. We are developing a set of criteria for organisations wanting to work with us.