In on the act

Ar­ti­fi­cial in­tel­li­gence is be­ing used to pre­vent costly mis­di­ag­noses

China Daily (USA) - - FRONT PAGE - By JA­COB HOOSON in Shang­hai ja­cob_peter_hoo­son@ chi­

Ar­ti­fi­cial in­tel­li­gence is be­ing sum­moned by the health sec­tor to help pre­vent costly mis­di­ag­noses, as high-tech joins in fight against world’s health prob­lems.

Baidu CEO and chair­man Robin Li called on the tech­nol­ogy sec­tor on Tues­day to “join hands” with the health sec­tor to tackle more of the world’s health prob­lems.

“If we can marry these two to­gether then I thinkmag­ic­can hap­pen. It’s very ex­cit­ing to think about the ap­pli­ca­tion of In­ter­net Plus in health,” Li said.

Speak­ing as part of a panel of ex­perts at the Ninth Global Con­fer­ence on Health Pro­mo­tion in Shang­hai, Li sug­gested that health com­pa­nies uti­lize the open­ness of the in­ter­net and big data to em­power peo­ple to lead health­ier lives.

Li was joined on stage by Mar­garet Chan, di­rec­tor-gen­eral of theWorldHealth Or­ga­ni­za­tion, who de­scribed health­care as “one of the most, if not the most, con­ser­va­tive sec­tors”. She said the sec­tor needs the help of tech­no­log­i­cal in­no­va­tors to help coun­tries achieve the Sus­tain­able De­vel­op­ment Goals set out in theUN’s 2030 Agenda for Sus­tain­able De­vel­op­ment.

One of the is­sues Li has no­ticed dur­ing his re­cent for­ays into the health in­dus­try is the “low ex­pec­ta­tions” of the tech­nol­ogy sec­tor among med­i­cal pro­fes­sion­als.

Mak­ing a med­i­cal data­base search­able, for ex­am­ple, can be solved by one server, Li said. “We have 500.”

More than 60 mil­lion med­i­cal and health-re­lated queries are per­formed on Baidu ev­ery day, ac­cord­ing to Li, high­light­ing the grow­ing reliance on the in­ter­net for self-di­ag­no­sis.

Pro­vid­ing au­thor­i­ta­tive in­for­ma­tion on­line has been a top pri­or­ity for Baidu since Chi­nese in­ter­net reg­u­la­tors or­dered the com­pany to change the way it dis­plays re­sults fol­low­ing the death of a stu­dent who vis­ited a health­care provider found at the top of a search list in 2014.

In ad­di­tion to strength­en­ing its en­cy­clo­pe­dic data­base, the com­pany has rolled out a sle­wof ini­tia­tives aimed at the health­care sec­tor, in­clud­ing app Baidu Doc­tor, which al­lows pa­tients to ask doc­tors ques­tions, make med­i­cal ap­point­ments on­line and search for health in­for­ma­tion.

Ear­lier this year, Baidu be­gan test­ing its “Med­i­cal Brain” sys­tem— ar­ti­fi­cial in­tel­li­gence de­signed to help doc­tors avoid costly mis­di­ag­noses — in hos­pi­tals across China.

“In 80 per­cent of cases in one hos­pi­tal, the Med­i­cal Brain came to the same con­clu­sion as the doc­tors. But we can go much fur­ther in pre­ci­sion medicine,” Li said.

How­ever, while China’s hos­pi­tals be­gin to em­brace in­no­va­tion and big data, more work is needed to en­sure they can com­mu­ni­cate on both a lo­cal, na­tional and in­ter­na­tional level.

Zhao Houlin, sec­re­tarygen­eral of the In­ter­na­tional Telecom­mu­ni­ca­tion Union, said that coun­tries should adopt an in­ter­na­tional stan­dard and is­sue guide­lines from the “top down” on how to con­nect hos­pi­tals with smart data­bases.

“To con­nect hos­pi­tals you need to have some kind of com­mon stan­dard,” he said. “Tele­coms au­thor­i­ties and health­care au­thor­i­ties need to work to­gether to keep these sys­tems safe and re­li­able.”

health-re­lated queries are per­formed on Baidu ev­ery day.

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