How China is using AI to push back against its physician shortage

With less than 12 million health workers for a population of 1.4 billion, China is facing an unprecedented physician shortage, — but it may have found a solution in technology, France 24 reports.

Tech firms in China are turning to big data and artificial intelligence to develop new devices that can take some work off physicians' plates. One of these companies, Ping An Good Doctor, offers an automated pulse-taking machine that spits back results to a wearer's mobile phone. That device — which acts as a digital "receptionist" that sends information to a real-life physician — is part of Ping An's AI-assisted medical consultation system that patients use to conduct quick preliminary check-ups and get prescriptions without having to go to the hospital.

Importantly, these new tools are helping Chinese patients in underserved communities connect with medical experts in big cities.

"We are imitating and duplicating the skills of qualified doctors, the ones from tertiary-level [highest-level] hospitals, and spread it to smaller cities and local counties," Fang Qu, chief technology officer at Proxima, a healthcare technology company focusing on AI-assisted medical imaging diagnosis, told France 24.

A former physician added, "It can definitely ease China's doctor shortage problem ... With the assistance of AI, it can relieve doctors from doing the mundane, simple and repetitive work."

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