Background

The Liverpool 5G Health and Social Care Testbed started in April 2018 as part of the DCMS 5G Testbeds and Trials Programme and the greater 5G strategy, and ran for 20 months.

The project, the first 5G supported health trial of its kind in Europe, was given £4.9 million to see if 5G technology provides measurable health and social care benefits in a digitally deprived neighbourhood. It is also part of the UK5G, national innovation network for the sector.

The project was delivered by the Liverpool 5G Consortium.

Aims – What we were trying to do

Throughout the project, the consortium tried to address the following question:

“Can 5G connectivity be sufficiently cheap and effective in health and social care provision that it will be cost effective to give free access to those unable to afford either phone or broadband access?”

We knew that to answer this question we needed a series of technological solutions that care services could easily adopt and use.

Throughout the project we also focused on:

Activities – What we did

Over 20 months we have mobilised 11 partners, over 15 subcontractors, social care providers, local citizens and wider stakeholders to take part in our project. We establish a working 5G mmWave network, which supported health and social care products for 179 people in the community. Our partners span the full range of private, public and third sectors.

The Liverpool 5G Health and Social Testbed harnessed opportunities created by 5G mmWave technology and used them to address challenges currently facing health and social care services. A private 5G mesh network supports telehealth services in the Kensington area of Liverpool.

We combined Blu Wireless’ British mmWave technology with WiFi and LoRaWAN connected to Local Authority backhaul, an independent data-centre hosting application, and internet carrier peering. To tackle the challenging and conventionally expensive ‘last-mile’ access problem, we have built a network using 220 mmWave nodes and established network planning methodologies based on lessons learned whilst deploying the testbed. We now have the largest mmWave mesh network in the UK.

During the latter part of the project we provided gigabit wireless links to two community buildings: a local care home and a community learning centre. We deployed a significant number of IoT devices in the community.

There are two strands to our project. The technical challenge of installing and proving the feasibility of the new mmWave mesh network technology, and the complex challenge of introducing new and emerging technologies to existing health and care services and ensuring people see improved health outcomes.

The project has been managed by the eHealth Cluster, who have also carried out benefits realisation activity  – gathering and evaluating data from each organisations to measure the impact of the trials. This work is vital as it helps establish how health services will adopt technology in the future. It also enables SMEs to demonstrate the impact of their products.

Throughout the project our partners have played an active role in ensuring key local and national groups, businesses and communities are informed about the work we’re doing and the potential benefits of 5G technology. We have attended conferences, debates and events nationally and internationally and regularly provide interviews, quotes and updates to relevant press and media.

Liverpool 5G is an ongoing part of the conversation about 5G/ emerging technologies and the positive impact they can have on health and social care services. We have overcome significant challenges when integrating our products into existing live services and recognise these challenges as the start of a significant change management process to integrate technology into the way care services are delivered.  The procedural and technical challenges we have overcome throughout the project are an essential part this transformational process.

Creating the 5G mesh network

The wireless 5G network was designed and installed over the course of the project, with input from several partners:

Supporting Health and Social Care services

Volunteers were identified by the eHealth Cluster and Liverpool City Council (home care providers and care homes) to trial the technology. Protocols were developed for engaging with users safely.   

11 new technologies were supported by 5G technology:

5G technology was chosen to support these health technologies because it is faster, more reliable and can transfer more data than existing options. It is the perfect technology for supporting Internet of Things (IoT) health and social care devices that people rely on to stay well at home.

Achievements

Over the last 20 months the Liverpool 5G Testbed has:

Key Impacts

We have shown how 5G can effectively support new and existing technologies, enabling the use of innovative health and social care applications in the field more cost-effectively.

Analysis of the benefits and impact of the devices during the project trial showed that using 5G supported health technologies can:

Learning from the project

People taking part in 5G enabled health projects can see improved health outcomes but the following challenges need addressing:

For permanent change to take place, all stakeholders need to be involved:

Addressing the technical and logistical challenge of planning, producing and installing the Mesh Network:

 You are more likely to be successful if you:

Please read the full report on the Liverpool 5G Health and Social Care Testbed and Trial