KT and Samsung Medical Center to develop 5G medical service

These services include digital diagnostic pathology, access to proton therapy information, teaching surgery, an AI-enabled care for in-patients and an autonomous robot for operating rooms.
By Dean Koh
12:36 AM

Above image: Medical staff at the Samsung Medical Center wear sync cams during a surgical procedure. Credit: KT

KT Corp., Korea’s largest telecommunications company, and Samsung Medical Center (SMC) announced that they have jointly developed an innovative, 5G-powered medical service as an initial step to establishing a 5G smart hospital.

As part of the pilot project, an enterprise-dedicated 5G network at the SMC was built by KT, with service environments created for operating and proton therapy rooms. A test operation was also conducted. 

The two partners have been applying 5G on site to create better medical services since they signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) in September 2019. These services include digital diagnostic pathology, access to proton therapy information, teaching surgery, an artificial intelligence-enabled care for in-patients and an autonomous robot for operating rooms.

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BENEFITS OF 5G

In diagnostic pathology practiced up to now at one of Korea's biggest hospitals, tissues taken from the patient during surgery were treated for analysis and sent to pathologists in an adjacent room. This required up to 20 minutes of walking back and forth, making it difficult for pathologists to conduct on-site group analyses.

Speedy and uninterrupted access to pathological data obtained during surgery, which is critical in determining the conditions of patients, is provided by a 5G network with ultra-high speed and ultra-low latency. The network allows the pathology department to gain access to materials, each containing about 4GB of data, ensuring better medical services.

Operating rooms can usually become too crowded with surgeons, nurses and medical equipment for medical students to observe closely. To facilitate effective teaching, KT has developed a 5G-assisted education program in cooperation with the SMC.

The program enables surgeons in operating rooms to teach a large group of medical trainees in a separate lecture room, using sync cams on the 5G network. It provides voice and high-quality video footage from the perspective of the surgeons in real time.

An AI-powered in-patient care platform called Smart Care Giver, which runs on KT's GiGAGenie engine, enables patients to control their hospital room with a voice command. Their medical condition will also be regularly monitored with their permission, allowing medical staff to efficiently attend to patient emergencies if they arise. 

Autonomous robots for operating room assistance will reduce secondary and tertiary infection that occurs through contact with medical waste and save human resource costs in waste disposal. Additionally, 5G-enabled massive connectivity minimizes disruption and latency in data exchange with robots and terminals.

THE LARGER TREND

South Korea is at the forefront of developing advanced medical technologies in the region. Last April, Yonsei University Health System signed an MoU with SK Telecom to build a 5G network and develop specialized solutions for the Yongin Severance Hospital, which is scheduled to open in February 2020, HealthcareITNews reported

In an article on HIT trends in 2020, Tim Costantino, vice president and head of product at AdvancedMD, a vendor of EHR and practice management software, predicts that “5G will bring two significant benefits: increased speed/capacity and much lower latency. The infrastructure currently is being built out, and the development will significantly accelerate in 2020.”

ON THE RECORD

"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.