If you follow technology news at all, it’s impossible to escape the 5G media frenzy. The new wireless standard promises to provide high-speed broadband data access everywhere, though there is plenty of confusion around just what 5G is or is not, and just when it will be available. One point is clear; 5G has the potential to transform healthcare.

One example was recently demonstrated by the University Hospitals Birmingham NHS Foundation Trust. In partnership with British Telecom and wireless provider WM5G, researchers demonstrated a remote ultrasound system. Now, wireless medical imaging may not seem that impressive, but this demonstration had a unique wrinkle.

Thanks to high-speed bi-directional communications, the system allows a doctor to remotely guide the ultrasound. A paramedic in an ambulance wears a haptic glove that receives remote inputs from a joystick operated by a clinician. The vibrations in the glove guide the paramedic’s movement of the ultrasound transceiver, so that the physician can get the precise image needed in real time. The system displays the images in the ambulance as well as in the hospital. The clinician also has a second live video image of the interior of the ambulance, providing additional information about what is happening.

This system means that the diagnosis process can start sooner and with more information, so that appropriate intervention can begin well before the ambulance arrives at the hospital. The process should result in saved lives and better outcomes.