A Liverpool-based 5G technology hub has received a further £1.48million to explore how the mobile network can improve health and social care.

Liverpool 5G Health and Social Care already has a number of projects in place following a £3.5million grant last year, including a loneliness gaming and quiz app which connects people with learning disabilities.

The Sensor City programme, made up of 11 organisations from Liverpool’s hospitals, council, universities and technology SMEs, received £0.94million in Government funding and £0.54million from consortium partners, bringing their total funding so far to £4.9million.

The consortium of healthcare providers, researchers and businesses were tasked with looking at how fifth generation mobile technology can improve patient care.

The funding has also contributed to 5G solutions to help people living with long-term conditions like diabetes and epilepsy in Liverpool’s Kensington area.

Rosemary Kay, Liverpool 5G Health and Social Care project director, said the funding increase “gives us more time to explore the benefits of providing affordable 5G technology to people living in digitally deprived communities”.

Jane Davies, Producer at CGA Simulation which developed the loneliness app, added: “Working with people with a learning disability from Kensington Community Learning Centre to develop the app has been a brilliant process.

“We have been able to adapt the colours, font size and choice, language and contrast used in the game to better enable people with different conditions to use the app. It is now far more accessible and useable for this group.”

Other technologies being trialled include:

  • Safehouse Sensors, which are installed in homes to detect falls, changes in temperature and unusual behaviour patterns
  • PAMAN, which provides a video link to a local pharmacy, helping people to take medicines at home safely
  • ‘Push to Talk’ a loneliness app for isolated carers, which puts them in touch with other carers in a similar position and the ‘Loneliness Gaming and Quizzing App’, being trialled by people with a learning disability in Kensington
  • ‘Telehealth in a Box’, designed to aid communication between The Royal Liverpool and Broadgreen University Trust and patients in the community, and 5G supported VR devices used as palliative pain distraction in wards.
  • ‘WarnHydrate’ a device used to detect dehydration in older people
  • Blu Wireless Technology has developed wireless 5G mesh networks using existing fibre and equipment set up on street furniture like lampposts. The technology can be delivered cost effectively, across a dense urban environment, to provide general coverage

5G is predicted to play a huge role in the future of healthcare, but the specifics of the technology are yet to be decided on.

Experts have previously warned that poorly regulated 5G could pose “potentially catastrophic cyber threats” amid concerns tech giants like Huawei could pose a security threat.

In the UK several companies are looking into the viability of 5G technology in the healthcare sector, including Internet of Things (IoT) company Pangea Connected who are working with Kingston University in London to develop a new 5G-enabled video streaming service that allows A&E doctors to triage patients before they arrive at hospital.

Technology giant Ericsson has predicted 2020 to be the year 5G will be launched in healthcare.