The need to have equitable access to quality healthcare is enshrined in the United Nations (UN) Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), which defines the developmental agenda of the UN for the next 15 years. In particular, the third SDG focuses on the need to “ensure healthy lives and promote well-being for all at all ages”. In this paper, we build the case that 5G wireless technology, along with concomitant emerging technologies (such as IoT, big data, artificial intelligence and machine learning), will transform global healthcare systems in the near future. Our optimism around 5G-enabled healthcare stems from a confluence of significant technical pushes that are already at play: apart from the availability of high-throughput low-latency wireless connectivity, other significant factors include the democratization of computing through cloud computing; the democratization of Artificial Intelligence (AI) and cognitive computing (e.g., IBM Watson); and the commoditization of data through crowdsourcing and digital exhaust. These technologies together can finally crack a dysfunctional healthcare system that has largely been impervious to technological innovations. We highlight the persistent deficiencies of the current healthcare system and then demonstrate how the 5G-enabled healthcare revolution can fix these deficiencies. We also highlight open technical research challenges, and potential pitfalls, that may hinder the development of such a 5G-enabled health revolution.
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