Baidu Develops “Medical Brain” for Computer- aided Diagnostics

The field of artificial intelligence has undergone groundbreaking developments in the recent years, due to big data and continuous advancement of the computer industry. It is commonly believed that companies from the Silicon Valley dominate this field. However, for some years already, Chinese companies are entering this area, flying mostly completely below the radar of Western business and media. Baidu, the Chinese search engine giant, is one of the most successful among them.

In China, medical care remains a permanent hot topic, as there are by far not enough doctors per patient in the whole country. This is why the researchers try to take countermeasures by use of artificial intelligence. This is also an important part of the planned healthcare reforms of the Chinese government.

Baidu is also experimenting with applying artificial intelligence for medical diagnostics. In the course of treatment, AI can analyze, categorize and systemize patient’s description of the symptoms and thus unburden the doctor. After extensive interactions with patients, artificial intelligence should even be able to predict possible future problems and give relevant recommendations.

As of today, about hundred thousand of inquiries regarding health and medical treatment are already registered daily on Baidu, which is the most popular Chinese search engine. Thus, Baidu would now like to develop from a mere search engine to an immediate link between AI services and consumers. In order to achieve this, the app “Baidu Doctor” has been launched two years ago, which so far is mostly used for making appointments online. At the moment, it is possible to arrange an appointment with 340.000 Chinese doctors through “Baidu Doctor”.

The next step now is the project „Medical Brain“. It is already seen as a milestone in the field of artificial intelligence and is based on a combination of big data, super computers and machines that are capable of learning.  Patients can learn more about their health status with this system through online interactions and without having to consult a doctor. At the same time the doctors have access to the patient information and medical history, which should make medical treatment easier.

The  CEO of Baidu already sees the dawn of a new era. However, it remains to be seen how well the integration of AI in medical diagnostics will work. Every patient has individual needs and it is questionable whether artificial intelligence actually takes into account these individual aspects.

Nevertheless, with the previous rapid developments of the Chinese tech giants, it would not be very surprising if this ambitious project too will be completed sooner than we can imagine.


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