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Wuhan Union Hospital partners with Baidu Health to integrate AI in healthcare

Written by 36Kr English Published on   2 mins read

Initial results of the pilot project are promising.

The recent advancement of artificial intelligence has once again placed the healthcare sector in the spotlight. Over the last six years, billions of dollars have been invested in AI healthcare ventures. This substantial funding has propelled advancements in AI-powered drug discovery, medical imaging, and virtual consultations, alongside the development of smart hospitals. However, this wave of investment has also highlighted a critical issue: many companies struggle to effectively integrate AI technology with real-world healthcare settings, limiting its potential to deliver true value in medical applications.

China faces persistent healthcare challenges, including limited medical resources and subpar patient experiences. The focus now is on identifying optimal scenarios where AI can be effectively deployed. The second phase of integrating AI in healthcare involves refining applications to address critical pain points such as patient triage, appointment scheduling, and wait-time management, among other areas.

The Wuhan Union Hospital, in collaboration with Baidu Health, has launched an AI project to enhance outpatient services. Chen Shu, director of the hospital’s outpatient office, outlined three areas where AI could expedite the delivery of medical services: patient triage, appointment slot allocation, and waiting time management. These improvements aim to reduce inefficiencies while enhancing the quality of doctor-patient interactions.

One of the major innovations thus far has been in the area of AI-powered triaging. Traditionally, hospital staff would guide patients manually through the triage process, which can be effective but inefficient and at times subjective. This can result in patients missing or booking incorrect appointments, increasing healthcare costs, delaying treatment, or even falling victim to medical scams. AI-powered triage tools can engage in detailed conversations with patients, accurately assess their medical needs, and direct them to the appropriate department or specialist.

The project has been piloted at Wuhan Union Hospital for a month, covering over ten clinical departments. Initial feedback from doctors in those departments has been largely positive, having noted significant improvements in operational efficiency.

One key feature of the project is the enhanced appointment scheduling system. This system is particularly beneficial for patients seeking appointments with fully booked doctors. After collecting the patient’s medical information, the system evaluates whether the patient qualifies for an additional appointment. If the criteria are met, the request is forwarded to an expert for review. During the first three weeks, the system processed over 2,000 requests, with AI accurately identifying 282 eligible cases, 268 of which were approved by experts, showcasing a model accuracy rate of 95%.

Hu Yu, president of Wuhan Union Hospital, envisions the project as a transformative step toward a smarter healthcare ecosystem. The ultimate goal is to leverage AI to minimize inefficiencies during patient consultations, provide precise diagnostic support, and enhance outpatient services, thereby creating a more efficient, patient-friendly environment​.

KrASIA Connection features translated and adapted content that was originally published by 36Kr. This article was written by Hu Xiangyun for 36Kr.


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