Population ageing and out-of-hospital care are increasing and we are living at home for longer. These developments are resulting in a growing demand for care, not to mention the current COVID-19 pandemic. Combined with rising staff shortages, the challenge is to continue to provide care of sufficient quality. This calls for smart technological solutions, with TNO seeing a key role for 5G.


There are already various application possibilities involving research into how 5G can be used to contribute to the challenges facing healthcare, such as: 

  • Mobile diagnostic box – To facilitate better and faster on-site emergency care, this portable set of diagnostic equipment is being developed. Thanks to 5G, medical analyses can be exchanged in real time between the doctor or nurse on site and the specialist.
  • Home Care – To give home and other care organisations or emergency services access to a home, a door can be unlocked remotely with a smartphone, for example.
  • 5G connected ambulance – Thanks to a high-quality video link, ambulance crew can be better supported by a remote specialist who can watch and make decisions.
  • 5G drones for medical devices – Medicines, blood bags, AEDs and other medical devices can in future be delivered quickly and efficiently by drones to distant, remote locations.

TNO is working with various parties on the following two promising use cases:

5G Connected ambulance

In the 5G-HEART project, TNO, together with partners, is investigating the added value of 5G for ambulance services. In an emergency, it is crucial to quickly assess the urgency and location for treating the patient. Optimising this pre-hospital triage results in better care for the patient and saves costs. Thanks to a high-quality connection for video, audio and data (such as ECG), an ambulance medical manager or specialist can remotely observe and advise the ambulance crew. This provides better support and more efficient decisions. It also reduces the risk of patients being brought to hospital unnecessarily, which currently still occurs in 15-30% of cases of burns, for example. In addition, 5G communication can also help transport the patient to the hospital as quickly as possible. Thanks to reliable communication between the ambulance and its surroundings, the ambulance can take the fastest route and cross junctions and bridges with priority.  

Read more about the 5G-HEART project (.pdf download)


Medical devices are now mostly transported by road, water or air by helicopter. Especially in emergencies, this creates limitations in the form of congestion and delay-sensitive transfers. These traditional forms of transport are also costly and environmentally harmful. Drones controlled via 5G can help solve this problem. Drones now exist that could transport larger packages with, for example, medicines, blood bags or AEDs.

They are quickly on site and can be deployed in a targeted, flexible, cost-efficient and sustainable manner. Ultimately, an ecosystem of drones will emerge, delivering goods reliably and safely via multiple flights and routes. In order to fly autonomously over longer distances, a reliable 5G connection is essential. OmniDrones Projects and Vliegend.nl have incorporated the drone project into the 5Groningen pilot, and TNO is working with parties such as VodafoneZiggo, Dell EMC, VMware and Hanze University of Applied Sciences in Groningen on this use case.


Get in touch with Matthijs Vonder


Matthijs Vonder MSc

  • streaming analysis
  • monitoring & Control