The COVID-19 pandemic has not only driven the general public to pay more attention to medical care, governmental investment has also zoomed on the role of biotech industry in developing the capabilities to combat the virus.
The Ministry of Science and Technology (MOST), together with various Science Parks and the National Applied Research Laboratories today jointly presented the latest biotech R&D results at the “2021 BIO Asia–Taiwan“. At the event, Microsoft, ASUS Cloud, Taipei Medical University and National Taiwan University Hospital also had a heated discussion on how to foster cooperation between the medical and ICT sectors, and what obstacles were to be overcome.
The medical sector is Taiwan’s fortress, and defense should be strengthened
In her speech, Andrea T. J. Hsu, the director general of Academia-Industry Collaboration and Science Park Affairs under MOST, pointed out that while Taiwan’s semiconductor industry is considered to be the country’s silicon shield, its medical industry is also the bastion of Taiwan’s pandemic prevention. As the pandemic accelerates the digitization of the medical industry, the industry should quickly and effectively deploy ICT, IoT, 5G, AI and other digital solutions, including Big Data.
At the end of the year, MOST is expected to promote the “Smart Medical Industry-University Alliance Program”, soliciting cooperation plans from the medical and telecommunications industries, driven by telemedicine and digital medicine, so that the increasingly aging society will not burden the medical system in the long run. The plan must also take into account clinical applications and export potentials.
National Taiwan University Hospital: Full intelligentization begins with medical service & collaborations
Ming-Shiang Wu, Superintendent of the National Taiwan University Hospital (NTU Hospital), said that NTU Hospital’s integrated database has already gathered data on various diseases for more than 20 years. Through the data, the “4P” of medical care can be realized, including “precision”, “prediction”, “prevention”, and “patient participation”.
NTU Hospital has many experiences in cooperating with ICT companies. During the cooperation with Acer’s “Diabetic Retinopathy AI Assist Software” and aestherAI’s “Bone Marrow Smear AI Automated Interpretation System”, it has accumulated many experiences in cross-sectoral cooperations, including sharing R&D intellectual property rights and commercialization – all bornt out of practical cooperation cases.
There are many unexplored growth areas in Taiwan’s medical industry. Through deregulations and incentives, it is hoped that world-class medical companies can be cultivated. In the past, the government regarded the medical sector as a welfare provider. Now, it is seeking full-scale industrialization.
Taipei Medical University: medical care rises in quality as a result of data monitoring
Taipei Medical University, as an early adopter of digital solutions, experienced a significant rise of medical care quality enabled by digitalization.
For example, Jeng-Fong Chiou, Superintendent of Taipei Medical University Hospital,
explained that digitalized hospital wards played an important role during the pandemic. Medical staff were spared the need to wear protective gears. Instead, the relevant psychological data were directly displayed in nursing stations. When receiving abnormal signals, the system can automatically alert the medical staff.
For example, the system once detected abnormal readings on a patient every night. It was later discovered that the patient’s family member died because of the infection, and the patient wasn’t able to be present, leading to extreme sadness. The hospital immediately provided psychological support.
Smart medical development: a dynamic between regulations and practical applications
Hanzhang Wu, CEO of ASUS Cloud & ASUS Life Corporation, said that Taiwan’s medical market is not large, and cooperations between the high-tech industry and hospitals must go through careful evaluations, including redesigning and re-defining the partnership, and reducing cooperation barriers. At the same time, we can pay attention to the five recent regulations and policies pertaining to smart medical care, including the Ministry of Health and Welfare’s cloud-based electronic medical records. When it comes to informing the public on the use of medical information, the United States also provides an example.
The remaining three regulations include the medical sandbox promoted by MOST, the health insurance policy towards remote medical expenses, and the inclusion of ICT industry in the Ministry of Economics’ biotechnology and new drug industry development regulations. All of them are indispensable to the smart medicine industry.
Through data and image analysis, Microsoft’s innovative cloud assists in smart medical care
Vincent Shih, Assistant General Counsel of Microsoft and GM of Microsoft Taiwan Corporate, External, and Legal Affairs (CELA) team, pointed out that in the cross-sectoral cooperation between the medical and high-tech industries, Microsoft can provide integrated analysis of data, gain insights from data optimization, and provide better medical services. It can thereby reduce the need to visit hospitals in person.
Microsoft also has a lot of innovative cooperation experience with hospitals in the medical field, including cooperating with Norwegian hospitals to allow first responders to use Hololens helmets to transmit data images back to the hospital and do first aid on the spot. At the same time, Microsoft’s cloud platform can also ensure the security of private medical information
Finally, the cultivation of medical and ICT cross-sectoral talents is also key to the promotion of smart medical industry. Both Taipei Medical University and National Taiwan University have started courses to focus on cultivating smart medical talents, so that ICT professionals can understand the needs of first-line medical personnel, and be familiar with common language and skills. Only by feeding the knowhow back to product development and services can there be a good customer experience, and only in this way can medical and telecommunications technologies create new values.