Digital technologies help with medical treatment in China

LANZHOU - After transforming 2D X-ray film into a 3D model, doctors at a hospital in Northwest China's Gansu province wear VR glasses to pinpoint the location of abnormalities during a surgery.

The operation took place in the First Hospital of Lanzhou University, showcasing how smart technology helps physicians better diagnose and treat diseases.

Based on a combination of CT scanning and magnetic resonance imagery, doctors can see a 3D graphic of the human body through holographic goggles. They are able to zoom in and out, rotate and move the graphic using hand gestures.

"With the help of these holographic goggles, we can quickly find lesion locations and layout precise surgical plans. The system can also mitigate patients' surgical wounds and reduce their costs of treatment," said Ma Minjie, deputy director of the hospital's thoracic surgery department.

Over the past few years, various digital technologies have been applied in basic medical services in China.

The need for early detection of lung cancer, one of the deadliest cancers in the world, has fuelled the development of AI-assisted diagnosis and treatment systems that can detect ever-smaller lung tumors.

Previously, the First Hospital of Lanzhou University introduced an advanced AI-assisted lung cancer diagnosis system, which can detect 30 lung nodules within half a minute.

The initial symptoms of lung cancer like a persistent cough and fatigue are not easily diagnosed, and the limitations of human vision make it easy for radiologists to overlook tiny malignant lesions, said Han Biao, director of the hospital's thoracic surgery department.

"Using AI-assisted diagnosis and treatment systems can help on both counts by shifting some of the burden from busy specialists and detecting lung spots invisible to the human eyes," Han added.

At present, a total of 16,000 rural medical institutions in Gansu Province have been equipped with AI-assisted diagnosis and treatment systems, making early lung cancer screening more precise and accessible to all, statistics from the provincial health commission showed.

When more digital technologies are merging into all aspects of diagnosis, treatment and rehabilitation, the development of digital medical care is benefiting more people.

According to statistics from the National Health Commission, more than 7,700 Grade II and above hospitals, with a higher number of beds and more comprehensive medical services, have adopted the medical appointment system.

The use of online services for making appointments, paying bills and collecting medical test results has brought more convenience to patients and physicians.

Recently, a smart ward equipped with service robots, transfusion control systems and interactive systems has been built up in the First Hospital of Lanzhou University, creating a more pleasant environment to speed up patients' recovery.

"Advanced technologies make doctors smarter and make it easier for patients to seek medical treatment," Ma said, adding that the booming information technology brings new impetus and opportunities to drive the digital transformation of medical care and improve the quality of all-level medical service.