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AI gives doctors a hand

By Zhu Lixin | China Daily | Updated: 2018-06-26 09:49
An automated system dispenses medicine for patients at Affiliated Fuyang Hospital of Anhui Medical University, in Fuyang, Anhui province. [Photo/Xinhua]

Technology tags along on ward rounds at China's first intelligent hospital, as Zhu Lixin reports.

Anhui Provincial Hospital became China's first intelligent hospital in August, using artificial intelligence-enabled systems to help doctors with medical diagnoses and treatment.

Four months later, the hospital, in Hefei, Anhui's provincial capital, was renamed the First Affiliated Hospital of University of Science and Technology of China.

Yan Guang, the hospital's deputy head and the man in charge of its intelligent transformation, said that when it launched an AI-enabled smartphone application in 2016, doctors and nurses were keen to use it.

Developed by iFlytek, an AI company based in Hefei, the system uses speech-recognition technology to type up medical records and image-recognition technology to help doctors read medical images.

"The users of the app, which is a tailored edition for the hospital, soon reached a satisfying number," Yan said. "Then we found there were also nurses among the users, while the system was designed to serve doctors.

"Nice numbers are definitely not all we want. It is the doctors using the app who can help the system improve."

He said he subsequently had to limit use of the app among nurses.

Doctors said the AI-enabled systems have made their work more effective and efficient, although there are still some problems to overcome.

Qi Yinbao said that in his first four years as a neurosurgeon at the hospital, beginning in 2013, he had to spend much of his time writing up patients' medical records every day.

"I usually wrote them between surgeries, and very often would stay in the office after working hours to finish them," he said. "Sometimes I found I forgot some important information and needed to go through all the print records of examination results to refresh my memory."

With the app developed by iFlytek, Qi and the hospital's more than 1,300 doctors now have speech-recognition technology to help them record their diagnoses.

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