Israeli hospitals use 5G to innovate digital medicine

Fleur Sitruk

Editor-in-chief of Innov'Nation

3 min read
Ziv hospital team members work at the coronavirus ward of the Ziv medical center in the northern Israeli city of Tzfat.
David Cohen/Flash90Ziv hospital team members work at the coronavirus ward of the Ziv medical center in the northern Israeli city of Tzfat.

Nearly 70 percent of cyberattacks worldwide target hospitals

In Israel, as in many other Western countries, the development of digital medicine has become a priority.

Poria Hospital, located in Tiberias in northern Israel, is the leading medical center for a large region from the Lower Galilee to the Golan Heights, passing through the Jordan Valley. It is one of two Israeli hospitals selected by the government to benefit from 5G.

"We use technologies that allow doctors anywhere in the world to diagnose and see their patients with cameras and other sensors, and for that we absolutely need a fast network, like the one 5G offers," said Dr. Dany Zohar, director of hospital information security at the Israeli Health Ministry.

If successful, the pilot project will be extended to other health establishments. The benefits are many. 

"With 3G, the amount of data you could receive was limited. With 5G, you really have reliable coverage. For example, when you're in the basement of your house, you lose Wi-Fi, but you are always connected to the mobile network, so if you have this advantage in a hospital where the services must be connected 24 hours a day, it is fantastic", said Liron Ben-Horin, vice president of systems engineering at One layer.

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The 5G network offers much greater flexibility to hospitals in the event of a crisis, because it uses radio waves and not physical cables.

"One of the other advantages is that if you want to add a unit in your hospital, you don't need cables, so you save a lot of time and money. For example, during the pandemic, we had to build emergency units dedicated to the coronavirus at the Rambam hospital in Haifa. It took us several months, whereas with 5G it would have taken us a few seconds," according to Dr. Zohar.

This cellular network was previously reserved for mobile phone operators, but more and more states are letting private companies use these radio bands. The danger, however, lies in cyberattacks.

"Everyone is interested in information held by hospitals: hackers seeking ransom from hospitals, or hostile countries. There are attacks targeting hospitals every day and every minute. The most expensive data on the darknet is medical information, used for research purposes or to harm a country,” said Dr. Zohar.

Nearly 70 percent of cyberattacks worldwide target hospitals. To counter them, the Israeli company One Layer has developed technology to protect private 5G networks.

“We make sure that if someone has access to one of the private computers of the network, they cannot access even more confidential areas and obtain information about a patient, gain access to a scanner or a device crucial to the functioning of the hospital," explained Ben-Horin.

Installing 5G in hospitals will further improve the quality of remote care. Israel's performance in this area has already been praised by the World Health Organization, and the country has even been chosen to host the first international center for digital health.

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