China is flexing its artificial intelligence muscle, showcasing a host of medical innovations at this year's World AI Conference in Shanghai.
Many of the systems use artificial intelligence to help diagnose health problems more quickly and efficiently than a doctor would alone.
Companies around the world view AI as an opportunity to improve medical care, free up doctor’s time and relieve the pressure that ageing populations are putting on healthcare systems.
While the United States emerged as an early frontrunner in the industry, the European Union has taken a stricter stance when it comes to regulating AI, in a bid to protect privacy and fundamental rights.
Meanwhile, China's medical AI boom is strongly supported by the central government, which wants the country to become the world's leading AI innovation centre by 2030.
The hope is that new AI-driven treatment methods can address doctor shortages, minimise misdiagnosis rates in early disease prediction, and much more.
"With the assistance of AI, doctors will be able to get away from the tedious work of screening analysis and concentrate on the diagnosis of difficult cases," says Lin Mingzhen, Medical Liaison Manager for Diyingjia Technology Co.,Ltd, a Hangzhou-based company which developed the D-PathAI, an AI-assisted diagnosis tool for tumours.
It's just one of a range of medical innovations on display at the conference in Shanghai.
ZhiWei Information Technology Co.Ltd, also based in Hangzhou, has brought the Morphogo, a bone marrow cytomorphology analysis system that the company says can provide a clinical diagnosis within one day, compared to five to ten days for a regular hospital report.
"China has vast remote areas, and it is impossible for people living in remote villages to go to a big hospital for a rapid morphological examination of the bone marrow," says the company’s chief operating officer, Yang Chuhu.
"Without such a system, it can be said that the life and health of patients with blood diseases in remote areas cannot be effectively guaranteed. This is not a problem for China alone. This is a global problem."
Endoangel Medical Technology Co., Ltd, a company based in the city of Wuhan and focusing on gastrointestinal endoscopy, is showcasing Endoangel, a real-time AI assistance system for the diagnosis of gastrointestinal endoscopy.
"The workload of doctors in China is very heavy, we can give them good assistance, helping them improve work efficiency, and reduce the mistakes caused by fatigue or other reasons," says Ning Shanlin, Marketing Manager for the company.
China's AI health market is booming, with the market size reaching RMB 70 billion (over 9 billion euros) in 2022, more than three times the size in 2018, according to IResearch, a leading Chinese consulting company on online business.
"We are facing a huge market, and we also have advantages that foreign countries do not have," said Yang Chuhu of ZhiWei.
"We have a huge quantity of sample sources, and we also have government support for the industry."