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China’s first smart hospital featuring AI opened in Guangzhou

According to a report in Yangcheng Evening News, China's first smart hospital featuring artificial intelligence (AI) has opened in Guangzhou. 

The AI system can provide recommendations to patients before they arrive at the hospital and help them make appointments, as well payments through the WeChat account of the Guangdong Second Provincial General Hospital. 

A smart diagnosis system helps doctors prescribe medications. In addition to paying for bills online, patients can also establish their medical profile through facial recognition on WeChat. 

Ycwb.com reported that the hospital's deputy chief Li Guanming expects the AI to reduce the time of patient inquiries by as much as 50%. The system can diagnose around 90% of illnesses that are treated at community clinics.

Guidelines on AI application for all major hospitals in Guangdong Province are being drafted.

Accelerating AI adoption in healthcare

The State Council of China laid out an AI strategy in 2017, with the aim of growing the country’s core AI industries to a scale of over 1 trillion Yuan (USD 150 billion; a 100 times increase over the 2016 number), driving related industries to exceed more than 10 trillion Yuan by 2030.

Subsequently in December 2017, The Ministry of Industry and Information Technology (MIIT) of China released a three-year action plan (2018 -2020) setting it out specific targets for different technologies and sectors including healthcare.  

For instance, by 2020, there is a target for AI systems to be able to diagnose more than 95% of common diseases, related to brain, lungs, eye, bone, cardiovascular system etc., with false negative rate of less than 1% (not detecting disease when it is present) and the false positive rate of less than 5% (Detecting disease when it is not there).

The plan also envisions the widespread use of AI-enabled service robots in China within three years, with helping seniors and children being a priority.

China Daily reported recently that the First Affiliated Hospital of the University of Science and Technology of China, also known as Anhui Provincial Hospital, launched a pilot programme in August 2017 in collaboration with iFlytek Co Ltd, a leading Chinese AI company. As part of the pilot, AI systems are helping doctors with medical diagnosis and treatment. The AI-enabled system has helped to diagnose more than 47,000 CT images as of March 2018. The accuracy for the detection of lung nodules, one of the indicators of potential lung cancer, has reached 94 percent.

A speech EMR (Electronic Medical Record) system transfers doctors' advice into structured records. The conversation has an accuracy of 95%. It frees doctors from time-consuming documentation work so that they can dedicate more time to caring for patients.

AI-enabled robot guides are assisting patients. For instance, the robot guide asks patients about their symptoms and directs them to the correct department to go to.

In another example of the use of AI for diagnostics, the National Clinical Research Center for Cancer (NCRCC) in China signed a deal last year with the Institute of Computing Technology under the Chinese Academy of Sciences (CAS) to use AI in medical imaging.

The first area of focus for the cooperation will be to use the AI technology for reading breast scans and mammograms, two common methods used in breast cancer screening. Deep learning technology will be used to build models based on the experience of radiologists. The machine would be trained on hundreds of thousands of breast scan reports before it assists the doctors in diagnosis.  

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