New AI-centric solutions pushed for virus battle
Playing an important role in the COVID-19 fight, digital transformation and AI are expected to create significant changes in Vietnam’s healthcare sector in the very near future.
Experts from Vietnam, Japan, Australia and others joined a regional webinar last month held by the Vietnamese Academic Network in Japan to discuss the role of technology and AI in COVID-19 fight.
The various experts agreed that AI will be a driving force for future healthcare development, especially in electronic health records, research and development (R&D), examinations and treatment, preventive medical services, medicinal finance, and more besides.
Associate Prof. Tran The Truyen of the Applied Artificial Intelligence Institute at Deakin University of Australia said AI is able to recommend optimal solutions, thus easing possible negative policy impacts, evaluating technical efficiency, and increasing optimisation of medical devices.
According to Prof. Ho Tu Bao, Vietnam is building a national database on people’s electronic health records involving basic information, drug use, clinical information, and paraclinical data groups.
So far, the framework for this has been built and deployed in 63 cities and provinces, while electronic health records are already being applied on a trial basis in Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City, and the provinces of Lao Cai, Yen Bai, Ha Tinh, Khanh Hoa, Lam Dong, and Long An.
Vietnam aims to have 95 per cent of people with an electronic health record by 2025, regularly updating their health information and connecting all healthcare facilities nationwide. In Vietnam’s healthcare information system, such e-records will be an important database for digital transformation and AI in the healthcare sector.
Regarding R&D of medicines, AI will help shorten the development of drugs, vaccines and biology products. Truyen said that in the past, R&D of each medicine can take five to 10 years and a minimum cost of $1-2 million. Other processes of screening, drug design, and drug molecular synthesis plan will also be accelerated with AI.
With this AI support, developing countries like Vietnam can take opportunities to leapfrog the development on the back of the country’s proper development strategy.
According to some experts from the European Chamber of Commerce in Vietnam (EuroCham), Vietnam is able to become a potential ASEAN hub of manufacturing and supply of medicines.
In terms of examination and treatment, in some narrow fields, AI has a high diagnostic ability on par with experts. Some outstanding examples can be found in China, where a group of researchers used AI for image analysis to detect people infected with COVID-19. Thus, instead of having to consult with many experts, AI can solve the issue in just a few seconds.
What is more, digital health services will continue to develop such as telehealth, telemedicine, and AI-backed diagnosis and treatment. People will have more choice, urging authorised agencies that build and perform legal frameworks to work on stricter standards, and a more specific and clearer legal framework to put them into practice.
In the field of preventive medical services, AI-predictive ability remains a question but huge potential does lie ahead. One of the jobs that AI can carry out most efficiently is prediction. It can use data and apply algorithms using big data to judge and offer early alerts of future outbreaks, and provide an optimal plan to prevent them.
In regards to medicinal finance, digital transformation and AI will enable cashless payments to strongly develop, with the financial system becoming more transparent.
In the wake of these trends, the Vietnamese Ministry of Health built and performed a smart health scheme based on the three pillars of smart examination and treatment, smart prevention, and smart governance. This is a new application helping increase patient access to more comfortable and qualified healthcare services.
To succeed in digital transformation, preparation for qualified human resources is significant. Therefore, AI education will start both inside and outside universities. Currently, Vietnam has about 200 universities offering IT training. Outstanding digital technologies such as cloud computing, the Internet of Things, and AI will be widely applied.
It is estimated that the world’s database on healthcare doubles every two or three months, and the AI market in health is forecast to reach $13 billion by 2025.