A Japanese consortium including Hitachi and Microsoft Japan will use artificial intelligence to help doctors make diagnoses, tapping the cloud for data-sharing to eliminate the need for special terminals.
Smaller hospitals and rural areas with doctor shortages are seen benefiting from the user-friendly service, which will enable quality similar to urban facilities.
The 14-member Healthcare AI Platform Collaborative Innovation Partnership will set up a dedicated company as early as fiscal 2023 and open a website to provide the cloud-based service. Participants include Biprogy, formerly Nihon Unisys, as well as the National Center for Child Health and Development.
A broad menu of AI-driven software will be offered, such as in diagnostic imaging and in speech recognition for medical records. Software from companies outside the consortium will be included as well. Partner hospitals will supply medical data needed for software development.
For example, hospitals using brain aneurysm diagnostic software will upload CT scans and other data to the cloud, with AI calculating the probability of an aneurysm. Physicians will use their own judgment in making the final diagnoses.
While AI-aided software may reduce the risk of overlooking a condition, software malfunctions and other issues are still possible and health practitioners will be ultimately responsible for each diagnosis.
The consortium, which also includes IBM Japan, Mitsui & Co., SoftBank, and Roche Diagnostics—a Japanese unit of the Swiss healthcare company—aims to have the service in place at 150 facilities in the first year.
Physician shortages are a serious issue in rural areas. A few diagnostic radiologists can go through hundreds of images in a peak checkup season. The consortium will encourage Japan Medical Association members to use its service.
The global healthcare IT market, which includes AI diagnostics, is projected to grow about 50% from 2021 levels to USD 125.1 billion in 2027, according to Tokyo-based data provider Global Information. Japan lags behind the U.S. and Europe in the digitalization of health care.