A new information communication revolution based on 5G networks will deliver high-speed data for phone, Internet, and television content transmission and much more. Developing technologies such as the Internet of Things and artificial intelligence will count on the coming of 5G to achieve their potentials. No true 5G networks exist yet, despite advertising claims by some companies. Current “pre-5G” networks are enhanced 4G LTE technology. The 5G standard isn’t even totally defined, but that doesn’t mean progress is slowing. Standards definition ownership issues occurred with 2G, 3G, and 4G as well. What matters is within a few years we’ll all have the ability to live, work, and play with a communications and information network with maximum speeds eventually measured in the tens of gigabits per second. The Internet and the world wide web took much of the world by surprise and changed almost everything, but 5G’s potential is already being savored by leaders in many fields, with health care at the top of the list.

Qualcomm Technologies commissioned a paper, “5G Mobile: Impact on the Health Care Sector,” written by David J. Teece,  Professor and  Global Business Faculty Director at U.C. Berkeley‘s Haas School of Business Tusher Center for The Management of Intellectual Capital. Teece identified five ways 5G will change healthcare. Continuous sensor monitoring and data processing will increase effectiveness. Predictive analysis of data closer to the patient will aid preventative medicine. 5G will boost business transformation from fee-for-service to outcome-based models. Remote diagnosis and imaging, including support for virtual reality, will benefit medical care delivery. And finally, 5G will result in “improved state-of-the-art” in health care from the proliferation of data, analysis, and the learnings from both.

It’s wise not to spend a dollar before you earn it or to make real-world decisions based on hyperbolic projections. Getting ready for 5G empowerment, however, is not only wise, but it’s also strategic, practical, and, in a world where health care cost burdens threaten national economies, an ethical imperative.