by John R. Fischer
, Senior Reporter | January 21, 2020
South Korea’s largest telecommunications enterprise, KT Corporation, and Samsung Medical Center are joining forces to construct a 5G smart hospital.
The two announced their plans last week and have taken the first step by developing a 5G-powered network designed to complete a series of medical services at SMC. Specific ones provide support for digital diagnostic pathology, access to proton therapy information, surgical education, AI-enabled care for inpatients, and an autonomous robot for an operating room.
"KT, in partnership with the Samsung Medical Center, is pioneering innovative medical services for the new 5G era," said Park In-Young, vice president of KT's ICT convergence business department, in a statement. "We will continue to further refine 5G-powered medical technology by applying VR and AR technologies for real-time education."
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The use of 5G technology for digital diagnostic analysis at SMC enables the pathology department to retrieve pathological data obtained during surgery faster and with uninterrupted access. Each material contains about 4GB of data. The technology also speeds up access to CT and MR data on proton therapy, with pathologists able to access files from anywhere in the medical center rather than having to walk to the proton therapy center to download them.
Another innovation is a 5G-assisted education program that allows surgeons in an operating room to reach large groups of medical trainees in a separate lecture room, using sync cams on the 5G network. This reduces the number of people often crowding operating rooms, enabling medical students to get closer looks at procedures. The network provides voice and high-quality video footage from the perspective of the surgeons in real time.
KT and Samsung have also developed a delivery robot that removes contaminated materials and other medical waste for disposal from operating rooms, and brings in surgery supplies. In addition to reducing secondary and tertiary infection, the solution is expected to save on human resource costs in waste disposal, and through 5G-enabled massive connectivity, minimize disruption and delayed deliveries in data exchange with robots and terminals.
An additional innovation is an AI-assisted system called Smart Care Giver, which is designed for in-patient care. Providing AI services on KT’s GiGAGenie engine, patients can use it to control their hospital room through voice command. With their permission, the system can check their medical condition and alert staff faster for more efficient responses to patient emergencies.
Development of these and other services is expected to take place over the next year.
"Based on the verified new services, we will continue our collaboration with KT to promote convenience for all of our customers, including patients, medical staff and visitors," said Professor Park Seung-Woo, who is in charge of the smart hospital project at the SMC, in a statement.
A date for when the 5G Smart Hospital will be fully operational has not been revealed.