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Industrial Technology Research Institute


APEC Healthcare Webinar Focuses on Aging Population, Pandemic, and AI Solutions for Smart Medical Care


Delegations from over 10 APEC economic entities participated in the APEC Webinar on Digital Transformation for Healthcare.
Delegations from over 10 APEC economic entities participated in the APEC Webinar on Digital Transformation for Healthcare.

Global aging populations and the spread of COVID-19 have accelerated the development of the zero-touch economy and industrial digital transformation. In line with the priorities of APEC 2021, Chinese Taipei proposed an APEC Project “Artificial Intelligence (AI) Policy Recommendation on Digital Transformation for Healthcare Ecosystem”. This project was supported by the APEC Policy Partnership on Science, Technology and Innovation (PPSTI), and ITRI held the two-day APEC Webinar on Digital Transformation for Healthcare starting August 11. Delegations from over 10 APEC economic entities have been invited to discuss governmental policies, medical services, and industry collaboration for capacity building. ITRI also showcased its innovative telemedicine service model, providing a reference in creating a framework for smart healthcare.

Dr. Chyou-Huey Chiou, Director General of the Department of Industrial Technology (DoIT), the Ministry of Economic Affairs (MOEA), stated that the DoIT has always closely followed the latest tech developments to lead the industry in innovative applications. He hopes that through sharing diverse technology subjects, innovation policy discussions, and experience in technology capacity building, all 21 participants in the APEC PPSTI conference may use our best model cases as reference for their policy implementation. Dr. Chiou indicated that DoIT’s Technology Development Programs (TDP) have supported the advancement of innovative applications and digital technologies in medical care. These innovations can provide zero-contact, round-the-clock, real-time monitoring to meet post-pandemic needs in workplaces, daily life or the healthcare sector. In particular, the incorporation of AI can help boost the efficiency of medical services and healthcare systems.

ITRI Executive Vice President Pei-Zen Chang remarked that now businesses are committed to integrating ICT and healthcare resources, while also strengthening the use of AI, Big Data, and IoT to improve the quality of medical care. ITRI's 2030 Technology Strategy & Roadmap focuses on the three main areas of Smart Living, Quality Health, and Sustainable Environment. Under the support of DoIT’s TDP, he said, ITRI has developed the AI Policy Recommendation on Digital Transformation for Healthcare Ecosystem that combines information and communications technology with innovative healthcare service models to enable smart healthcare. Among these technologies, the Ophthalmoscope Image-based AI Decision Support Technology constitutes the first AI technology to enable early detection of defects in the optic nerve. This will assist ophthalmologists in diagnosing glaucoma from the fundus image at an early stage. The system offers an accuracy of over 94%, and the equipment can be used to provide services to people in rural areas. Dr. Chang emphasized that this reflects APEC's pursuit of innovation and a digitally enabled recovery in the post-pandemic period.

As the APEC Webinar focused on the acceleration of the digital transformation in healthcare, Mr. Esaki Yoshihide, who previously served as Deputy Director-General of Healthcare and Medical Policy at METI and is now the Director of the Institute for Social Policy Issues, talked about AI applications in the medical sector. He explained how Japan, which is facing an aging society, is establishing a new medical system that utilizes AI monitoring data to assist in the prevention, control, and monitoring of chronic illnesses, such as hypertension and diabetes. Additionally, DoIT Senior Technical Specialist Jian-Cheng Dai also presented a talk at the webinar, pointing out that the pandemic accelerated the transformation towards smart healthcare. The use of emerging technologies such as AI, Big Data, and sensors is expected to enable decentralized medical services, which provide customized healthcare for everyone at all times.

This webinar discussed a wide range of issues from broad trends to the recent pandemic, and from centralized medical care to distributed healthcare. Smart technology applications for inter-hospital cooperation were examined. Experts from the US, Chile, the Philippines, Thailand, Malaysia and many other countries also discussed ethics and governance of AI, the digital transformation of healthcare, the promotion of telemedicine, and related policy recommendations. Moreover, participants communicated on how to use open data systems to forge collective knowledge of contagious diseases. It is expected that these talks will play a vital role in creating a new future for the worldwide digitalization and technological transformation of healthcare.

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