Many technologies are being used to combat COVID-19, including artificial intelligence (AI). What role will AI play as China enters the normalization phase of epidemic prevention and control? What about in the post-pandemic era?
"The epidemic caused sudden pressure on medical resources, so we hoped that a variety of new technologies would improve efficiencies in their utilization," said Mao Xinsheng, founder and chairman of AI-assisted medical imaging solution company Shukun Technology, in an interview with CGTN during the 2022 Boao Forum for Asia.
He said the minimization of unnecessary human contact has been achieved by using robots for delivery, disinfection and remote reading of X-ray films.
Mao said people with underlying diseases, particularly the elderly, are the most vulnerable to COVID-19.
"How can we improve preventive health management through vaccines and immunization outside hospitals? We can conduct early screenings, diagnoses, interventions and treatment," he said, adding that when underlying diseases are identified early and can be controlled, people will be less fragile.
However, the application of AI in medical treatment is still in the early stages of exploration. Mao said reading and auxiliary diagnosis of medical images and surgical planning can take the lead in realizing the general application of AI.
Many Chinese tech giants, including Alibaba, Tencent and Huawei, have entered the AI healthcare industry. Mao said as a start-up, his company is constantly under pressure.
"A high-tech enterprise must embrace competition with an open mind because only competition will motivate each industry participant to innovate, to promote technological development and to enhance service capabilities," he told CGTN.
"From a competitive standpoint, companies like Shukun focus on combining AI and medical treatment. This kind of focus builds deep barriers to entry that still remain high in combining medicine and technology," he said. "So we're quite confident."