China is the country that has made the most of healthcare reform in recent years. It is becoming increasingly difficult to meet the growing demand for healthcare as China’s population ages. Already 300 million people have chronic illnesses. The latest data from Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development shows that China has 1.8 doctors per 1,000 people, compared with 2.6 for the United States and 4.3% for Sweden. Artificial intelligence (AI), which is a form of artificial intelligence, could relieve some of the burdens on China’s overworked doctors.
China’s failing healthcare system
It would be a great help to the hardworking doctors and nurses who maintain China’s failing healthcare expats in China system. In China’s urban hospitals, overcrowding is a common problem. A typical outpatient department in Beijing sees approximately 10,000 patients every day. This problem is made worse by the lack of facilities for rural patients, which leads people to seek out hospitals in cities nearby.
The Future Health Index 2018 from Philips shows that China’s access to healthcare is behind the rest of the fifteen countries surveyed. This is due to China’s low proportion of qualified healthcare professionals compared to its population.
AI is on the rise
AI is a way to understand large amounts of data. This is possible thanks to the rapid rise in computing power over the past few years. China is a particularly fertile ground to develop AI: the country’s 1.4 billion inhabitants have access to a vast amount of data.
Recognizing China’s AI potential, government officials have created an ambitious plan to transform China into the leading AI innovation hub in the world. Multi-billion dollar investments are expected to be made in startups, academic research and moonshot projects for healthcare.
This vision is more than a dream. It’s a reality that is already being made.
Guangzhou, China opened its first AI-enabled clinic to diagnose cataracts in 2017. This tool will save patients time and direct them to the right specialist, which will allow for more patients to receive treatment. It is still in its early stages, but it is promising, considering the lack of Chinese eye care professionals.
Smart personal assistant for doctors
AI could help China alleviate its overburdened healthcare system by speeding up medical image screening.
In an interview with The New York Times, a Chinese radioologist stated that they deal with a lot of medical images every day. If technology can reduce the stress and increase efficiency, we are open to it.
These needs should be taken into consideration and we should focus on the development of intelligent applications that reduce physician workloads while improving patient outcomes. It is not necessary to replace doctors, but rather to enhance their work and strengthen their ability to deliver high-quality, efficient care.
Care closer to the people’s homes: Improving care
AI may also be a way for patients with chronic conditions, such as those with diabetes, to stay in touch with their professional caregivers and gain better information about their health.
The Future Health Index shows that China’s adoption of telehealth is lower than in 16 other countries, but that the Chinese population is open-minded to new technologies to supplement their current care.
Home health monitoring technology powered with AI could be used to help elderly and frail people stay connected with professionals who can provide timely care. Similar technology could be beneficial for people with hypertension or diabetes, which allows them to monitor their condition using clinically validated sensors.
Call for collaboration
How can we accelerate our journey to more efficient, accessible, and preventative care?
Building a stronger data ecosystem is a priority. Quality of AI depends on the quality of data it receives. China’s healthcare system will benefit from sharing data standards, better data exchange, and interoperability between systems. This would be protected by top-notch security precautions. This is a significant step forward in the direction of three digital national databases containing health information.
Data-driven AI approaches like AI can only be effective when combined with medical expertise. AI is only one part of a solution. It is not the solution. It is essential to have a deep understanding of the clinical context. AI-assisted healthcare must be centered on the physician and patient.