Source: China Daily
Tech giant to team up with healthcare players to support emerging system, resolve challenges
Microsoft Corp plans to deepen its artificial intelligence push in China by teaming up with healthcare players and empowering them with algorithms needed to prevent and detect certain diseases, according to the company's top executive in China.
Through partnerships with United States pharmaceutical major Eli Lilly and Co and Chinese image cognition startup Airdoc, the tech giant plans to create an AI-powered ecosystem in China that can reduce the burden on the country's growing healthcare system, said Alain Crozier, CEO of Microsoft in China.
"China is going to play a fantastic and big role in this field ... we (need to) make sure companies partner together in order to resolve some of those big challenges that not only touch China but the rest of the world," Crozier told China Daily in Shanghai.
Under the agreements, Microsoft will extend its AI and cloud computing capabilities in the realm of medical imaging and disease screening to its partners, and will optimize workflow such as digitalization of medical records using natural language processing.
For example, by looking at someone's retina, Microsoft and its partnering firms can determine whether that per-son is likely to develop diabetes through image analysis powered by algorithms.
The potential for AI in healthcare cannot be overstated and China is moving rapidly to master the technology. A recent International Data Corp report suggested that the AI-backed healthcare market in the country is predicted to reach $930 million by 2022.
Microsoft is joining a wave of companies delving into the smart medicine field. Google Inc is investigating how deep learning can be applied to digital pathology by creating an automated detection algorithm that can naturally complement pathologists' workflow.
Royal Philips NV now adopts diagnostic imaging solutions to detect early symptoms of certain diseases in the lungs, breasts and other areas.
China's domestic tech conglomerates have also sniffed out an opportunity, with both Alibaba Group Holding Ltd and Tencent Holdings Ltd setting up dedicated research units for developing AI diagnostic tools.
By working with more than 100 hospitals nationwide, voice recognition specialist iFlytek is working to improve clinicians' workflow, where doctors' voice diagnosis can be translated into digital texts in real time.
Crozier said Microsoft's strength lies in the profound partnerships it has forged in China and the vast resources it can leverage from its global network.
"Through partnerships companies can bring you a set of data that will enrich the solutions and algorithms that you provide," he said. "Sometimes it is an even better solution because it will be open for others to participate in the ecosystem."