Vodafone supplies 5G and IoT to health-tech firm with ‘access’ to 90% of operating rooms

Vodafone has formalised a partnership with health-tech platform provider Proximie to supply sundry 5G networking, IoT sensing, and edge computing componentry for its surgical software, which is being deployed in hospital operating theatres and diagnostic rooms to help with training and operations.

Proximie says its software has been used in “tens of thousands of surgical interactions” and is deployed in 500-odd hospitals in 50 countries; it claims contracts with 35 major medical device companies with access to 90 percent of operating rooms and diagnostic suites in the UK, EU, and the US.

Vodafone Business, the UK-based operator’s enterprise division, is handling the relationship, which builds on its Centre for Health initiative with Deloitte, announced in October. Their new virtual facility for digital healthcare combines Vodafone’s healthcare solutions with Deloitte’s healthcare consultancy practice. The two are looking to simplify access to connected healthcare for patients and healthcare professionals.

London-based Proximie’s augmented reality (AR) and remote tele-conferencing software affords a way for healthcare professionals to ’scrub-in’, remotely and virtually, with connected operating rooms anywhere in the world. They can record and interact with the surgeries to improve workforce training, plus “surgical mentoring, proctoring, and technical expertise”. But remote expertise will carry over into live surgeries as well, said Proximie.


A statement said: “Proximie is creating a global network of operating rooms interconnected by the world’s best clinicians, to create a future vision where as many incisions as possible are informed by AI, and clinicians are empowered with real-time diagnostics, data, and analysis.” The firm is looking for Vodafone to accelerate roll-out of its platform in 2022; Vodafone Business wants more enterprises using 5G.

Proximie said the Covid-19 pandemic has made clear the need for connected healthcare solutions, such as its own remote AR and tele-confernecing solution. It quoted unattributed figures in a press statement that 2.4 million operations were cancelled by the end of 2021 because of Covid-19; it cited a report in the British Medical Association that workforce shortages could be up to over 80,000 doctors in the UK’s NHS by 2043.

A statement said: “This will… [make] healthcare more efficient and [provide] better training for the workforce – both vital to address surgical backlogs and improve patient outcomes.”

Vodafone says 92 percent of European citizens (interviewed in a poll) think the health sector needs urgent support through the EU’s Recovery and Resilience Facility (RRF). Its virtual health centre with Deloitte “can accelerate this support through innovation and the enhanced digitalisation of healthcare”, it said. Vodafone’s involvement with Proximie, plus Deloitte’s by extension, will drive “efficient delivery of high-quality surgical care, at scale”.

Vodafone claims to connect more around 20 million healthcare devices globally, on its various cellular networking, edge and cloud computing, and software analytics products; Deloitte claims to have 24,000 staff in its life sciences and healthcare team.

Nadine Hachach-Haram, founder and chief executive at Proximie, said: “Proximie has started 2022 with huge momentum with this latest partnership announcement. Having the best connectivity is imperative for delivering digital health services at scale, so we are thrilled to partner with Vodafone Business to leverage its 5G capabilities and cutting edge technologies such as edge computing.

“Building on our existing relationship will accelerate the roll-out of our platform in the UK and across Europe. We will be able to provide connected surgical care to a wider audience and continue delivering impact by sharing the best clinical practice and ultimately saving lives. It further consolidates Proximie’s position as best-in-class and extends our lead in the health-tech space. We are hugely excited to continue the collaboration with Vodafone Business.”

Mark Allinson, business development director at Vodafone Business, said: “This partnership… will be an enabler of connected surgical care… through increased access to Vodafone’s technologies and platforms. The Vodafone Centre for Health with Deloitte is committed to helping more people gain access to healthcare by increasing the number of connected solutions for both patients and healthcare professionals.”

Writing in a blog post, Allinson added: “The digital surgical solution will feature a global network of interconnected operating rooms attended by leading clinicians, where incisions are informed by artificial intelligence, and each clinician empowered with real-time diagnostics, data and analysis. With this access, healthcare systems will be able to improve the quality and speed of workforce training and increase capacity through more efficient delivery of surgical services.

“[This will] improve access to the highest quality surgical care for patients – through real-time surgical collaboration, enhanced video-based training and data analytics. These factors are important drivers if the healthcare industry is going to address the current surgical backlogs and improve overall patient care in the future.”