Smart healthcare makes medical services easier, more accessible

A medical worker with Huainan First People’s Hospital, east China’s Anhui province instructs a senior patient to use online hospital services in a residential community, Dec. 2, 2020. (Photo by Chen Bin/People’s Daily Online)

Smart healthcare, enabled by modern technologies, is overwhelmingly lifting diagnosis and treatment capability of hospitals, and bringing huge changes to how people seek medical attention.

The low-latency 5G network is making telesurgery possible, and the application of cloud computing and storage has freed medical services from hardware restrictions. Besides, mobile applications are developed on which patients can consult medical experts “face to face” through video and voice calls, as well as texting.

A woman surnamed Wu from Beijing’s Changping district has benefited a lot from smart healthcare. Wu suffers from hypertension and mobility problems, but she has to visit her doctors regularly and have her prescriptions filled at the Beijing Chaoyang Hospital, which is more than 40km away from her home.

Thanks to a virtual follow-up visit service launched by the hospital, Wu is now able to consult her doctors online. It just takes her 10 minutes to register, go through online examinations, and receive virtual prescriptions.

“I don’t need to go to the hospital anymore. Now I can see the doctors and receive my prescriptions online. It’s so convenient,” she told People’s Daily.

Today, driven by emerging technologies such as 5G and AI, medical service scenarios are integrated with digital, networked and intelligent facilities and solutions at an increasingly faster speed, said Liu Junwei, deputy general manager of the smart healthcare division under Chinese tech giant Baidu.

“As medical informatization has just entered a new stage, smart healthcare is tangibly around us,” he added.

The community health service center in Mafang township, Pinggu, Beijing is a typical primary-level medical institution that receives around 300 patients on a daily basis. Though the shortage of manpower is a headache for most primary-level hospitals, everything there is handled in an orderly manner. Under the assistance of an AI system that helps with decision making on clinical diagnosis, doctors can effectively refer to the information they need about diseases, examinations, and medications.

Apart from serving as a medical knowledge database, the system developed by Baidu is also able to assist doctors in inquiry and diagnosis, recommend treatment plans and similar cases, and supervise the quality of medical advices and medical record writing, Liu told People’s Daily.

It also learns massive textbooks, clinical guides, pharmacopeias and model cases from top-notch hospitals, so as to duplicate optimal solutions of common diseases and the experiences of experts, Liu added.

“It helps new doctors to deal with diseases they are unfamiliar with and helps veteran doctors enhance the efficiency of diagnosis and treatment,” said an executive with the health center in Mafang township.

So far, the system has been employed by 18 primary-level medical institutions, helping over 200 doctors.

At the Chengdu BOE Hospital, southwest China’s Sichuan province, prescriptions are filled by robots, and patients are monitored by IoT devices when receiving intravenous therapy. In recent years, AI technology has been applied in multiple sectors of healthcare services, for instance, medical images, medical care robots, medicine development, disease prevention and teaching, which has effectively improved diagnosis and treatment capability and the experience of patients.

Ma Hongtao, director of BOE’s health service business, noted that smart healthcare offers new ideas for major hospitals to improve services and patients’ experience.

The diagnosis and treatment procedure, which is flat and centralized, and centers around patients, will build brand new medical service models, he said, adding that digitalization and intelligentization will comprehensively enhance the quality of medical services.

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