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China smart medical development to focus on AI-aided applications in 2018
Handerson Hsieh, DIGITIMES Research, Taipei
Wednesday 3 January 2018

China's development of innovative technologies used in smart medical care in 2018 will focus on AI (artificial intelligence)-aided interpretation of medical images and gene inspection mainly for cancer detection.

According to China's Ministry of Civil Affairs, the country's population aged over 60 will increase to 300 million in 2025, or 21% of the total, Currently in China, there are 15 doctors per 10,000 persons, far fewer than the average of 30 in developed countries, and bed utilization in first-class hospitals is 98%, much higher than the 60% for private hospitals. Hospitals see decreases in medical insurance payments and in incomes from medication and medical devices. Therefore, it is necessary for hospitals to introduce smart medical care technologies to reduce operating cost and hike efficiency.

In China, venture capital investment in startups engaged in smart medical R&D took off in 2015, with total investment reaching CNY1.05 billion (US$167 million). The investment in 2016 rose to CNY2.4 billion, mainly in cloud-based medical services. In 2017 the sum is estimated at the same as that in 2016, with a strong focus on AI applications for medical care and gene inspection, Digitimes Research has found.

As development of third-generation genome sequencing approaches maturity, prices for single-time gene inspection will drop to below US$100, with AI application for gene inspection to detect cancers expected to grow fast in 2018. AI will be used to analyze individuals' genomes and correlations between genomes and parameters on their physiological measurements and living environment to develop precision medicine and personalized health care solutions.

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