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Analysis EO
Analysis · 2
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Analysis EO
Mar 5, 2020 11:41 am ·

Open Source, Open Mind: Baidu and LinkingMed Help Doctors in Medical Images

LinkingMed has launched its AI-based detection model for pneumonia CT-screening and prediction based on the Baidu’s PaddlePaddle (Parallel Distributed Deep Learning), EqualOcean learned from the medical imaging firm. A Hunan-based hospital affiliated to Xiangnan University became the first medical institution to use the system. This AI-equipped diagnosis system can detect and contour the lesion, picture the diagrams of the density of the two hemisphere lungs, and visualize a series of quantitative benchmarks such as quantity and volume percentage. All these tasks can be completed within less than one minute, with an accuracy rate of  92% - 97%, LinkingMed claims. So far, LinkingMed has not initiated any commercial plans for this AI-based pneumonia detection system. “The motivation to launch this AI medical diagnosis model is only to help fight against the spread of coronavirus,” Mr. Ryan Zhang, the CEO of LinkingMed, said. “We will unconditionally contribute our AI power to containing this plague, as much as we can,” he added. The high-tech medical solution provider focused on solving the compatibility issue with different types of scanning equipment by cooperating with research entities. At the development stage of the algorithm used by the system, the Xiangnan University-affiliated hospital provided professional clinical instructions regarding the data annotation, module design and set strict acceptance criteria to satisfy various medical conditions. This online AI screening system will be deployed at multiple hospitals in Hubei, Chengdu, and other severely-affected areas. Founded in 2016, LinkingMed is an AI technology enterprise in the field of oncological radiation therapy. The Beijing-based medical high-tech company sells techniques and cloud services related to the organic contour, target contour, and radiotherapy to medical institutions. By leveraging the internet and cloud platforms, it also provides remote collaboration and relevant website services for oncological doctors and physicists. During the past four years, LinkingMed has received d four funding rounds, including the recent one worth CNY 40 million in October 2019. Linear Venture is the serial investor for LinkingMed from Series Pre-A finance to the last Series A finance. Medical imaging is a niche business given lightweight and comparably less attention as Chinese medical device makers are promoting their ‘globally competitive’ strategy. Now this area is increasingly highlighted, as the novel coronavirus continues to spread and consumes a lot of medical facilities and doctors across China. The domestic high-tech medical device market rose in 2016, a fierce tussle participated by United Imaging (联影医疗), Huiyihuiying (汇医慧影) and VoxelCloud (体素科技). Most players use essentially indifferent AI technology while base the competency on different sources. These providers still need to consider some fundamental issues to apply AI in daily life. The first is developing the algorithm for the specific problem, for instance, coronavirus event. The other is high-quality data annotation, which takes time and hard work. Additionally, the lack of industry standards, quality protocols, and practice guidelines stand as the major problems ahead of the industry. For patients, time is life. CT imaging plays a critical role in identifying the infected patients, serving as a surrogate to PCR (polymerase chain reaction) diagnostic, according to a previous report. In the Huoshenshan (‘Fire God Mountain) hospital, one of the frontline hospitals, the CT lung screening by InferVision (推想科技) helped with the lab’s capacity as the number of suspected cases rose quickly.  To facilitate the detection process and guarantee the test results, LinkingMed incorporated the AI learning framework into the CT imaging process by utilizing Baidu’s PaddlePaddle. Injected with the AI’s deep-learning power, this open-source online diagnosis model can improve the efficiency and ease the pressure on the clinical doctors.  Before 2020, ‘Artificial Intelligence’ was a buzz word. Now, the outbreak of coronavirus is pushing many key industries to accelerate their AI processes, especially, in the urgent demand for medical facilities. The epidemic has forced Ali Health (阿里健康), Yitu Technology (依图科技), Huawei (华为), Deep Wise (深睿医疗), and other tech companies to introduce their AI-equipped diagnostics, in different aspects, aligning a joint wholistic force to ease the infection.  The PaddlePaddle of Baidu is an open-source deep-learning Chinese platform for industrial applications. Similar to Google’s TensorFlow, PaddlePaddle comprises core learning-framework, model bank, development tool kits, and online services supporting over 1.5 million developers in businesses.  The option to cooperate with PaddlePaddle also indicates LinkingMed’s motivation for its AI diagnostic system. “To curtail the current tension in Korea, Iran, and Japan, we want to provide technical support through Baidu’s platform for international medical institutions and developers,” says Mr. Zhang, “We also will keep an open mind to work with different medical entities, including online healthcare. The goal is to inject technology, whilst fulfilling our social responsibilities. ”

Analysis EO
Analysis · 2
Analysis EO
Apr 30, 2019 02:46 am ·

Chinese Had Profitable Exchanges of Privacy; Now, Doing the Same in Healthcare

A proposal by Robin Li (李彦宏) -founder of Baidu (百度) and an influential figure amongst China’s policymakers- yet again attracted the attention to the Medical Cloud. He thinks that Medical Cloud contains rich clinical data which catalyzes the research and application of electronic medical records, improving the medical system, so as to alleviate the problem of insufficient medical resources and uneven distribution between urban and rural parts of China. Indeed, launched by the Government in 2016; rights and responsibility of data collection, sharing and utilization and cloud management have been regulated, stimulated and outsourced by giving them to the third party companies and SOEs. “9) We will implement the Healthy China Cloud Service Plan, build an integrated platform for healthcare services, provide remote consultation, remote imaging, remote pathology and remote ECG diagnosis services; and improve the mutual recognition and sharing the mechanism of inspection results. We will promote data resource sharing and collaboration between large hospitals and medical institutions, general practitioners and specialists …”    A literal translation of Article 9 says that the government will collect all the medical data coming from the smallest clinic in Guizhou to the biggest hospital in Shanghai; process it and make it useful within the cloud; and give access for this data to whoever and whenever necessary; to provide a smarter healthcare services ecosystem to the public. Once again, what is seen as “personal” in the west, had not seen that private and allowed to be exchanged for the sake of other purposes in China. What is so earth-shattering about Medical Data Privacy in the West? There are a variety of reasons for placing a value on protecting the privacy, confidentiality, and security of medical data. Underlying causes are summarized as personal autonomy, individuality, respect and dignity. However, it should be noted that we all have different dignity and self-respect evolution criteria; the solemnity of these sort of “social value-based” laws are questionable. From a pragmatic point of view; the most significant reason is that if the patient does not trust the doctor, he/she will not share the reality on what has been happening in his body, which eventually results in less effective diagnosis&treatment. In fact; even the belief that the medical data is well protected and will not be disclosed without consent influences the entire process positively. Several mass medical data theft cases filed so far. Institute for Critical Infrastructure Technology stated that between 27.8 million and 67.7 million people have had their medical records stolen since they started keeping data in 2009. Medical records may include a person’s full name, address, emergency contact information, social security number, insurance details, the name of treating physicians, diagnoses, prescriptions, treatments and several other very sensitive pieces of information. This is why they are traded as a valuable asset amongst hackers and may be used in undreamed of frauds and crimes. In the U.S. medical data is protected by the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) which was passed in 1996 and still the law is still in effect. HIPAA protects any information that doctors, nurses, and other health care providers put in the medical record, any conversation that doctor has about patient's care, any information about the patient in the health insurer's computer system, and any billing information about the patient. The law states that none of this information can be shared with the third parties without the patient’s consent. Although the efficiency and beneficialness of the law criticized by many; it still protects the patient’s information from any third-parties and this American approach was copied or adapted by and inspired to several other developing and developed economies in upgrading their medical data laws and regulations accordingly. We can not tell the same for the Chinese. Since the very first days of the establishment of Modern China, they have never approached to the legislation and regulation from a “copy-paste” approach; but they tailored for China, with a purely pragmatic activity-based approach. Who Process Medical Data in China? There are two types of major medical data processors in China; State-Owned Enterprises (SOEs) that possess the legal right to collect and process the mass data directly from hospitals and private companies who collect various types of data from individuals in exchange to several types healthcare services. In 2016, three SOEs were licensed and granted the right to collect the big data from China’s hospitals: China Health and Medical Big Data (中国健康医疗大数据), China Medical Big Data Industry Development Group (中国健康医疗大数据产业发展集团公司) and China Medical Big Data Technology Development Group (中国健康医疗大数据科技发展集团). (English titles were unofficially translated by the author) The detailed analysis of these SOEs activities’ are not in the scope of this article, and this article only covers the private companies whose activity scopes are med-tech, big-data, AI or/and IoT. Founded in 2015, 12Sigma (图玛深维)  is one of the first companies in China to introduce AI and deep learning into the medical image diagnosis and medical data analysis. The Company’s “Cloud Cad” product aims to provide doctors with accessing the medical image data at any time from anywhere in the world while giving an AI diagnosis help to the medical personnel who has limited technical capacity in reading the medical data of CT, MR, CR, DR, ECT, DSA, ultrasound, endoscopy, pathology and various other medical equipments. As of April 2019, the company has accumulated around CNY 200 million fundings in Series B. The company is operated from Beijing, Suzhou and San Diego offices with around 70 known employee. Founded in 2012, Yitu Tech (依图科技) is one of the most comprehensive AI companies in China with its CNY 671 Million (Series C ) cumulative fundings. They have activities in Security, Healthcare, Finance, Retail and Smart City industries. Its product “care.ai” powered by AI+Big Data; providing a supportive diagnosis and treatment platform for doctors and medical personnel. The more medical data care.ai processes and collects, the more it gets accurate. Zhejiang Provincial People’s Hospital uses Yitu’s smart medical imaging platform for the early detection of lung cancer, and another hospital in Guizhou cooperates with Yitu developing a preliminary diagnosis platform. In March 2019, Huawei and Yitu (依图科技) published the intelligent healthcare cloud co-developed by them during an AI Conference held in Fuzhou. Founded by Zhu Long (朱珑) and Lin Chenxi (林晨曦); Sequoia China and Zhen Fund back the company. The company operates in China, Singapore and the USA with around 500 employees. United Imaging (联影医疗) is yet another company that aims at launching a Medical Cloud solution for several applications. In fact, the company is one the biggest and most assertive MI, MRI, CT and Xray Machine producers globally; and it wants to convey its excess technical and financial capacity to the medical cloud application; linking regions, hospitals, and departments to achieve a high-quality medical resource-sharing in the Cloud. Not surprisingly, their cloud product “uCloud” has not yet submitted to the FDA of the US. For this product, they see China as the potential market to start with. The company raised CNY 3.3 Billion (Series A) funds and operates in the US and China with more 3000 employees. China’s internet giant Tencent’s WeDoctor and PingAn’s Good Doctor are the other massive apps that provide AI driven projects. Conclusion It is not an enigma that China needs to upgrade its data privacy regulations. The Government acknowledges the fact. Perhaps, the government currently prioritize its more significant structural healthcare problems before dealing with medical privacy. “The country will need a more comprehensive regulation and legislation in personal information and data protection. Premier Li urged all related departments to work with the National Health and Family Planning Commission (NHFPC) to further improve data protection.” stated the State Council of China. Current lax of regulation is an excellent opportunity to feed the algorithms with massive real individual data for Chinese companies. When WeChat Pay and AliPay first started to operate in China, there was no regulation to protect any personal data of the payee or the payer; moreover, these applications have started as non-licensed, non-bank financial operators. Today, their payment transactions surpassed the entire transaction volume processed within the baking system of China; creating the most advanced mobile payment ecosystem globally. In public security, Chinese gave up their privacy to the State Owned and private institutions who collect their offline online activity data to get more secure and traceable environment. In contemporary China, employing big-data and smart systems, the most crowded and complex country turns out to be one of the safest countries, globally. In Healthcare, it would be too naive to state that Chinese life expectancy will reach to that of Europeans and Japanese; but would be valid to predict that they will possess the best AI and Big Data powered med-tech solution providers.

Analysis EO
Analysis · 2
Analysis EO
Apr 15, 2019 09:02 pm ·

Can Medical Cloud Mitigate China’s Structural Healthcare Problems?

As a contentious debate topic among economists; it is still not yet known whether China will grow old before getting rich. If the Chinese population gets old and still sticks to be a middle-income economy, it will uniquely face a demographic crisis that no country has ever met before. In that case, China has to gradually revolutionize its entire healthcare, social security and pension system while providing several forms of affordable personal healthcare equipment and solutions; much more affordable than Japanese ones. The challenges China is facing today is as arduous as it will be facing in the second half of the 21st century. In terms of the healthcare facilities and human capital, contemporary China has a serious health disparity between urban and rural. While 3.92 licensed physicians serve for 1,000 citizens in the urban areas, 1.59 physicians serve for every 1,000 citizens in the rural; equivalent to almost 1.5 times human capacity difference. A Medical Cloud is a cloud computing service used by health care providers for storing, maintaining, extracting, transferring and backing up personal health information (PHI). Medical Cloud particularly provides healthcare applications in Medical Imaging, Diagnostic Decision Making, Telemedicine, Video-cloud and Medical Collaboration Solutions. The technology has a capacity to convey the healthcare services and facilities from urban to rural via big-data collaboration and various forms of a cloud application. Medical Cloud is a potential mass solution for a nation-level healthcare infrastructure rejuvenation for China to be ready to address the upcoming and current challenges in its healthcare industry. Deep-dive Into the Structural Healthcare Problems in China Chinese healthcare system faces three major challenges; urban&rural disparity,  changing demographics and attainability&affordability issues for medical products. The most explicit problem in China is its very problematic urban and rural healthcare capacity difference. Based on the data provided by the National Bureau of Statistics of China (NBSC), the healthcare capacity difference is in both human capital and physical facilities aspects; the disparity is between double to three-fold. NBSC reveals that 576 million people are residing in the rural areas of China; which means, 576 million people enjoying and benefiting 2-3 fold fewer facilities and resources than the rest 813 million people that are residing in the urban areas. Moreover, to what extent Chinese urban residents benefit from the healthcare and social security system is an arguable topic, as well.  Naturally, the disparity results in a disastrous mortality and life expectancy differences between rural and urban. It should be noted that while 27.5 physicians are serving for every 10,000 people in the USA, the number is only 13.5 in China. One can see not only between-regional problems but also national issues in the healthcare of  China. Mentioning the rural and urban disparities, it should be noted and elaborated on that although healthcare in urban areas is much more effective than rural; it has still several challenges keeping the Chinese healthcare system lagged as a whole. Out-of-pocket costs are seen as a major problem in China’s healthcare system. Nevertheless, the Chinese system has been progressing impressively compare to its near past; during the last 17 years, out-of-pocket costs nearly halved and replaced with social and governmental benefits, compensations and expenditures. However, the Chinese system is still far from being social-friendly compare to developed economies. In 2015, out-of-pocket spendings corresponded to 32% of the heart expenditures in China; while the share is 11% and 13% in the USA and Japan respectively. It is another aspect to explain why Chinese healthcare system is not mature enough to handle an old population. The structural problems in China’s healthcare system will be multiplied and severely deteriorated as its population grow old. Especially, the second half of the 21st century will be a hard landing for China’s economy with around 150 million people older than 80 years old. A major demographic tsunami is approaching towards Chinese society, and time is against the Chinese Government to transform its infrastructure to these paradigm changes in its economy. China should not only provide political solutions to the problem, but also there need to be technical upgradings in the entire infrastructure. Applications of Medical Cloud in China Medical Cloud could potentially transmit the excess technical and human capacity from urban areas to rural which can alleviate and soften the problematic healthcare structure in China. Medical Imaging sharing is one of the most prominent solutions that will be utilized with Medical Cloud in China. Medical Imaging includes storage, sharing and collaboration of the image reading by the experts and doctors no matter where the patient is physically located. By the use of 5G, it is also possible to share real-time MI and MRI with the doctors all around the world, regardless of where the patient is. For China; it will give another chance for the patients in rural areas to get use of the doctors’ expertise in the urban areas. The only high cost of barrier will be deploying MI and MRI devices in rural areas; however, the financial costs are the secondary problems in China compared to the human capital problem. Although they are incentivized for working in rural areas, Chinese doctors and medical personnel generally do not want to work in the rural. Medical Imaging reading is especially a high-tech medical process needs well-cultivated personnel. Medical cloud is highly prospective in this respect. 12 Sigma (图玛深维) and United Imaging (联影医疗) are providing the pioneering tech in this field. Cloud-Based Electrocardiography (ECG) can provide interoperability between mobile and fixed devices by sharing ECG data that are coming from the wearable mobile healthcare devices. The other aspect is; it gives a historical perspective for the doctor to evaluate the patient’s hearth performance. Heart problems are the number-one cause of death in China. Reasons like air-pollution, smoking and unhealthy urban environment further trigger the problem. Any solution that targets the cardiovascular health of Chinese people will have significant beneficial effects on a macro scale. Medtrum (移宇科技) has several advanced solutions in addressing the issue. The company provides wearable smart hardware for the constant cardiovascular monitoring and a healthcare cloud application to store, share and analyze the healthcare data with the third parties and doctors. “The Three Tier Architecture” by Tasic and Ristov explains the mechanisms: healthcare data is collected via wearable devices and sensors based on the individual, this data and information organized and collected via mobile device of that individual; and the entire information accumulated shared with the cloud; so that it can be examined and used on demand or whenever, wherever needed. The overall system brings enormous efficiency with tangible macro benefits. Telemedicine is the remote delivery of healthcare services and facilities the sharing of ECG, pulse rate, SPO2, Blood Glucose, NIBP, Pathological Slides, X-Ray Scanner and Dermatology  Camera. Along with 5G and medical cloud, all these services can be shared real-time with the doctor via the cloud; which brings an incredible capacity increase in the high-quality healthcare services in the remote areas. Conclusion China has severe structural healthcare problems; nevertheless, Chinese are good at conquering nation-level atrocities by long-term persistent policies. In the last 40 years; they overcame poverty by lifting hundreds of millions of citizens out from the poverty line in a way that has never seen in human history. However, today, the challenge is even bigger for China. Because, this time, it has to transform its entire infrastructure under economic slowdown paradigms. China had grown double-digits for decades, but those good old days are all gone anymore. For a healthcare rejuvenation, China needs market-driven technical developments together with a competent healthcare policy from the central government. The alarming situation can only be eased by utilizing a technological push for the entire infrastructure; medical Cloud and AI will play a crucial role in this transformation.