A new AI-powered diagnosis system promises to detect new coronavirus cases with an accuracy rate of up to 96% via computerized tomography (CT) scans, local tech outlet Sina Tech News reported on Saturday.
The diagnosis algorithm was developed by Alibaba’s research institute Damo Academy. Researchers at the academy said they have trained the AI model with sample data from more than 5,000 confirmed cases, adding that the system can identify differences in CT scans between patients infected with the novel virus and those with ordinary viral pneumonia with an accuracy of up to 96%. The algorithm includes the latest treatment guidelines and recently published research, said its creators.
The new diagnostic tool was first introduced in Qiboshan Hospital in Zhengzhou, Henan province, which was modeled after the Beijing Xiaotangshan Hospital, completed in 2003 for the SARS crisis. The hospital has already started accepting patients infected with coronavirus on Sunday.
The system will also be adopted in more than 100 hospitals in the provinces of Hubei, Guangdong, and Anhui, said Alibaba.
The new algorithm could alleviate pressure on hospitals, as it can complete the recognition process within 20 seconds, according to Alibaba. Usually, it will take a doctor 5 to 15 minutes to analyze a CT scan of one suspected patient—which could include more than 300 images—to give a clinical diagnosis.
The Chinese National Health Commission on Feb. 5 widened the criteria for the diagnosis of new infections, adding CT scan results on top of the previous nucleic acid test method, to ensure patients with clinical symptoms will receive standard treatment as soon as possible.
This new diagnosis system is not Alibaba’s first attempt to use AI to combat the coronavirus. Researchers from Damo Academy have developed an AI-powered public health service tool that provides information related to the SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus, which was first deployed by the government of Zhejiang province on Jan. 27. The system can answer most inquiries regarding the pandemic via an app that serves as the Zhejiang governmental service platform.