Hospital taps AI to treat patients

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Hospital taps AI to treat patients

SK Telecom, the nation’s top telecom carrier, has joined forces with Korea University Medical Center to upgrade the general hospital’s system with artificial intelligence, big data, virtual reality and other cutting-edge technologies.

Dubbed AI hospital, the medical facility run by Korea University in Seoul will be using those technologies to diagnose and treat patients under the memorandum of understanding signed between the two parties on Monday.

The upgraded hospital system to rely on SK Telecom’s technologies will let its doctors input patient-related data with artificially-intelligent voice recognition, removing the hassle of having to enter data on the keyboard. Various medical data will be used to analyze medical big data on the back of a deep learning system. Doctors will also be assisted by virtual reality and augmented reality, which use SK Telecom’s T-Real VR platform. The entire process of surgery will be developed into VR content so that doctors can monitor and exchange opinions on the course of surgery at three hospitals under the umbrella of the Korea University Medical Center. Patient convenience also will be enhanced. They may check out the waiting time and pay medical fees over a smartphone app that uses the Internet of Things technologies.

The series of services will be available by November and a completed version after the pilot period will be applied to what Korea University has dubbed “cutting-edge convergence medical center,” which will start construction by next June.

“Our aim is to improve customer service throughout the process - from the point of arriving at the hospital to the point of being discharged,” SK Telecom said in a statement, adding the new medical center will be the best of its kind in Korea.

The upgrade comes as the medical center seeks a huge leap into an advanced institute.

“When patients have fostered higher standard for medical service, we needed change and innovation to provide patient-centered services,” said Kim Hyo-myung, chief of the medical center, at the MOU ceremony. “The cooperation with SK Telecom will lay a cornerstone for us to jump into a world-class medical institute.”

“It’s a pleasure that SK Telecom has joined the innovative change Korea University Medical Center faces as it transforms itself into an AI hospital, with our key fourth industrial revolution-related capabilities such as AI, IoT and virtual reality,” said Cha In-hyuk, head of IoT business at SK Telecom.

SK Telecom, the mobile service arm of SK Group, is ahead of many other conglomerates in that it began paying attention to mobilizing futuristic technologies for medical services. Since 2011, it has been outspoken about its plan to adopt “mobile health care” as a key growth driver.

The company in 2011 established Health Connect, a joint venture with Seoul National University Medical Center to build a next-generation healthcare service and system. Three years later, the telecom leader acquired NanoEntek, a life science and medical equipment manufacturer.

Even though the two companies have been hardly profitable, the prospect of the health care market remains rosy. Market researcher IDC predicted in 2015 the global health care market will post an annualized average of 10.2 percent to reach $12.4 billion by next year.


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