O2 will provide connectivity for a new “Smart Ambulance” at Millbrook Proving Ground this month, as part of a trial that has the potential to revolutionise patient diagnosis, transport and treatment.
The project will involve equipping a standard ambulance with state-of-the-art devices and connectivity to create a “Smart Ambulance” that will simulate 5G connectivity, transforming the vehicle into a unique remote consultation room.
The trial is being developed at Millbrook’s Proving Ground – a vehicle testing facility in Bedford that will help O2 develop and safely test the new system before it is deployed on the public network, replicating real world 5G capabilities.
O2 is partnering with Samsung for the devices, Visionable for the video collaboration software and Launchcloud for the asset tracking and compliance check elements. The combined expertise will equip the vehicle with a range of cutting-edge technology, including:
The group will work together to trial the latest monitoring and remote consultation technology to enable paramedics to conduct on-board treatments through mobile expert consultation. It is hoped the trial will demonstrate how “Smart Ambulances” can empower paramedics to treat more people with more ailments than currently possible and ease the strain on hospital resources by reducing the number of patients taken to hospital.
The trial itself will simulate an emergency call out, allowing paramedics to conduct checks, collect data and communicate with consultants remotely using on-board equipment. The paramedics will then be able to diagnose patients and recommend the appropriate treatment and next actions.
O2 is currently providing the devices and connectivity for a similar trial involving six ambulances at the East of England Ambulance Trust, led by Visionable, and funded by the UK’s innovation agency Innovate UK.
Visionable and Launchcloud are part of the Wayra family, which is the start-up accelerator owned by O2’s parent company, Telefonica.
The power of 5G
Being able to take advantage of 5G connectivity will enable super-fast upload and download speeds, reliable connectivity and low latency (delay in the transfer of data). This will provide smooth communication between paramedics and remote consultants via HD video. If successful, the trial may pave the way for the future of intelligent medical transport systems.
O2 research last year found that 5G video conferencing alone will free-up 1.1 million hours per year for the NHS, as well as saving cities £463 million per year and decreasing overall bed occupancy rates by 6% through the adoption of wearing monitoring devices.
Derek McManus, COO at O2 said: “It’s no secret there is increasing pressure on our health services. Healthcare is one of the areas set to benefit most from 5G technology, with faster, more effective treatment, and significant efficiency savings. That’s why we’re supporting the Smart Ambulance trials as part of the AutoAir 5G project to accelerate the adoption of connected and self-driving technology and unlock the benefits of 5G for communities and businesses alike”.
Lynda Sibson, Stroke Telemedicine Manager East of England Stroke Telemedicine Stakeholder Partnership: “When someone has a stroke, every minute counts. We have been successfully working with Visionable to bring critical stroke care to patients wherever they are, bringing life-saving treatment and diagnosis to thousands of people across the East of England. Extending this type of care into Smart Ambulances is an exciting next step in critical and pre-hospital emergency care. Being able to bring experts to patients regardless of their location will help save lives, while reducing some of the strain on clinicians and the NHS.”
Alex Burns, President of Millbrook, said: “We are delighted to be hosting the AutoAir consortium at Millbrook and this project will demonstrate the benefits that 5G technology can bring to society. We look forward to helping with the tests over the network at Millbrook as part of our support for the development of connected vehicles.”