MWC Keynote 6 Recap: New Horizons for Tech in Healthcare

The potential of groundbreaking technologies like 5G, AI and IoT have been discussed for years. After much speculation, we are now seeing real-world use cases and the power of these paradigm-shifting technologies.

At MWC Barcelona, a distinguished group of doctors, professors and executives discussed this new and exciting phase in technological evolution.

Neurology and Mental Health

The COVID-19 pandemic affected the lives of everyone across the globe. In the face of adversity, healthcare providers found innovative ways to deliver care.

“The biggest crisis can become the biggest opportunity,” said Ana Maiques, CEO and Founder of Neuroelectrics.

As social distancing and lockdowns made in-person medical visits impossible for many patients with neurological and mental health issues, the FDA approved research that would have been unlikely to be approved before the pandemic.

Maiques’ organization developed a wireless device equipped with 32 electrodes to record activity while stimulating certain areas of the brain. This technology was used to help epilepsy patients by pinpointing where seizures originate and segmenting which areas of the brain need stimulation. The device has helped reduce seizures non-invasively by 47 percent.

Remote Surgery

The potential for technological advances abounds in the field of medicine, from remote doctor visits and electronic forms to monitors and wearable biosensors. One of the most exciting areas of growth in the field of telehealth is remote surgery, giving healthcare providers “superpowers.”

“Thanks to 5G, we were dreaming about the superpower of being in two places at the same time,” said Rod Menchaca, CEO of Advances in Surgery. “To have one surgeon operating in Barcelona with collaboration from surgeons in New York, Mumbai and Shanghai, raises surgery to another level.”

In 2019, the low latency of 5G enabled the first tele-monitored live surgery in history. This allowed multiple surgeons to collaborate in real time.

Dr. Antonio de Lacy, Chief of Gastrointestinal Surgery at Hospital Clinic in Barcelona, believes the next frontier in remote surgery will include the use of artificial intelligence (AI) and analytics to help guide surgeons and improve outcomes.

Frontier Materials

Materials such as silicone have been instrumental in delivering new technologies. But new nano-materials such as graphene, a conductive material just one atom thick, can help usher in the next generation of technology.

Professor Frank Koppens, a Group Leader at the Institute of Photonic Sciences, believes that we should think of new technology as “changing society by taking something from the laboratory into our hands, into real products and addressing real markets.”

Graphene presents industries with a silicone alternative that uses 10-100 times less power than silicon equivalents. Real-world applications of graphene include sensors for health monitoring wearables, fast-charging batteries and smart vehicles. Graphene has the potential to power new use cases, including enhanced computer vision applications in drones, autonomous vehicles and more.

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