Connected Healthcare part 6:
Going beyond your Innovative Networks with Network as a Service

For this sixth and final article in our Journey to Connected Healthcare series, we will consider what is next for healthcare organizations that have an innovative network built on Network as a Service (NaaS) technologies. We will also note some additional advanced use cases which can be enabled by NaaS.

In our last article, we discussed some of the technologies that can be used to create an innovative healthcare network, including:

  • 5G on-site private network
  • Complete network management delivered by a partner in as-a-service model 
  • Zero Trust network architecture
  • End-user experience monitoring
  • Full integration with network management partner

These technologies represent the cutting edge of Network as a Service, but what innovations might come in the future?  

Potential Future Network Advances

6G mobile network

  • Some network providers are already discussing the next generation of mobile network, 6G, which could make use of terahertz waves (0.1 to 10 terahertz), between optical waves and microwaves. This could potentially achieve speeds of trillions of bits per second; imagine how this could impact the flow of essential health data, images, and recordings.

Serverless virtualized network functions

  • Earlier in the series, we discussed virtualized network functions, like switching, routing, and firewall. Today, these are built on dedicated virtual machines. In the future, they might not need to be. Instead, virtualized network functions could be built on a serverless architecture, where compute and storage resources are spun up only when they are needed, and spun back down when they are not, perhaps in a Secure Cloud Fabric or at the network edge. This could further enhance the efficiency of healthcare networks and further reduce their hardware or cloud footprint. 

Network and IoT devices with AI communicating autonomously

  • As more and more network and Internet –of Things (IoT) devices incorporate Artificial Intelligence (AI), they will begin to function more autonomously. These devices will be able to communicate with other such devices without the need for human intervention. Autonomous communications will continue to enhance the role of AI operations (AIOps) for both network and physical systems, with incredible promise for self-maintaining and self-optimizing healthcare networks and devices.

AI threat hunting

  • As cyber threats continue to evolve, they will incorporate AI, giving them reach and sophistication well beyond current capabilities. Those defending healthcare systems will need to adopt AI themselves to seek out these advanced threats and mitigate their impact. In short, the not-so-distant future will likely see cyber threat AI bots competing directly with cyber defender AI bots. 

Quantum cryptography

  • As quantum computers become more widely available, state actors and cyber criminals will almost certainly begin using them to crack existing methods of encryption. To overcome this challenge, healthcare networks will likely need to incorporate quantum cryptography, which encrypts private information with a key using a random sequence of photons which should be nearly impossible to crack. This will likely be the next leap in protecting Personal Health Information.

As these new technologies become commercially available, they will be incorporated into the ideal Health Reference Architecture (below). With a NaaS foundation, the Health Reference Architecture will be able to evolve to adapt to the networking and security breakthroughs of tomorrow.

  • Ideal Health Reference Architecture

    Ideal Health Reference Architecture

  • NaaS: A Journey

    In our first article, we suggested that a healthcare organization should think of NaaS as a journey, not a destination. NaaS is the foundation for digital transformation, providing the flexibility, programmability, reliability, and scalability that a care organization needs in its continuing drive toward predictive, preventive, personalized, participatory medicine. Each care organization must start from its own context and determine its own future, evolving over time to meet the needs of its patients and stakeholders. 

    When it comes to NaaS, this should include finding a partner to provide a fully integrated, end-to-end solution that evolves with the care organization to meet its specific Connected Healthcare goals. The care organization should expect its partner to provide a subscription-based model, beyond traditional recurring CapEx investments. Finally, the care organization should look to its partner for guidance on using the newest NaaS technologies to solve persistent challenges and enable new use cases. 

    Let’s consider a few of these future use cases.

    Additional Advanced NaaS Use Cases

    Virtual reality for training and pre-surgical planning

    • Healthcare organizations will likely use Augmented Reality and Virtual Reality (AR/VR) extensively in the near future, both for training medical professionals and for planning surgeries. For training, AR/VR can simulate an impressive array of multi-participant clinical operations and contingencies, supplementing or replacing the use of medical mannequins and live actors. For pre-surgical planning, AR/VR can offer incredibly realistic three-dimensional models of organs – developed from the patient themselves – on which surgeries will be performed. These solutions could be enabled with 5G On-site Private Network, discussed in our previous article.

    Real-time medical image analysis

    • Care organizations will also likely expand the use of AI as a tool in the processing and analysis of medical images. AI engines could be connected to existing imaging diagnostic tools such as ultrasound and endoscopy, receiving input video from the scope and processing it as the clinician is scanning, letting her/him identify potential areas for closer inspection. This could help clinicians analyze large streams of video data quickly and with incredible consistency and precision. This capability would provide even greater insights with the ability to consider patient history from integration with a care organization’s Electronic Medical Records system. This could also be enabled with 5G On-site Private Network.

    Remote assisted surgery

    • Remote assisted surgery is another near-future tool likely to be widely used by healthcare organizations. A 5G On-site Private Network could be paired with high-availability wireline connections to connect experts in distant locations in real-time through high-definition cameras and immersive video collaboration tools. These experts could help guide surgical procedures and post-operative care, including with immersive overlay imaging, haptic assistance, and robotics. Using both wireless and wireline connections could provide the network redundancy necessary for reliance on remote experts.

    These use cases are all a part of the promise of NaaS, which is the foundation on which they are built and the enabler that helps make them a reality. Every day, it is bringing the dream of truly Connected Healthcare closer to us.


    This is the final article in our series, although not the final word on NaaS. We hope that the series has been helpful in shaping your thinking about the central role of the network in the journey to truly Connected Healthcare. We have enjoyed sharing our thoughts with you and we hope you have enjoyed reading them. If you would like to continue the conversation, please reach out: We wish you the best on your journey to Connected Healthcare. 

    The author, Brett Barganz, is a Solutions Executive, for Connected Healthcare, at Verizon. Brett has expertise in leading public service organizations through their visions of change, especially technology transformation for Network as a Service and Connected Healthcare. 

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    Related articles

    Connected Healthcare part 1:

    An introduction to Network as a Service

    Connected Healthcare part 2:

    Moving from a Basic Network to an Innovative Network

    Connected Healthcare part 3:

    Shifting to an Efficient Network with Network as a Service

    Connected Healthcare part 4:

    Enhancing Healthcare Networks

    Connected Healthcare part 5:

    Network as a Service technologies are Innovation Networks

    Connected Healthcare part 6:

    Going beyond your Innovative Networks with Network as a Service

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