[Media Report] CHINA FINANCIAL WEEKLY: How Will BAHEAL Play A Leading Role in Intelligent Medicine
A journalist with CHINA FINANCIAL WEEKLY interviewed FU Gang, Chairman of the board of BAHEAL Pharmaceutical Group (BPG) recently and, on April 16, an article entitled “How Will BAHEAL Play A Leading Role in Intelligent Medicine” was published on Volume 217 of this weekly journal.
Read on for complete coverage of the report:
Introduction: Data tagging is a major bottleneck in intelligent medicine in China
Text/CHINA FINANCIAL WEEKLY Journalist ZHANG Shuxia
From adjunctive therapy to medical imaging and from R&D of drugs to health management, artificial intelligence is being applied to increasingly diversified scenarios in the medical field.
In the context of a changing industry, one successful in artificial intelligence takes preemptive opportunities. Technical tycoons such as BAT, Internet-based medical companies, conventional pharmaceutical industry and a great number of startups all begin to engage in intelligent medicine for a foothold in the era of technical change.
Competitors are jockeying for position intensely and FU Gang, who enjoys an educational background of medicine, knows well of the defects in the intelligent medicine in China. As BPG’s Chairman of the board, he describes himself frankly as “a doctor who does IT best and a professional in IT who knows medicine best”.
According to FU Gang, from the perspective of three essential factors, i.e., algorithm, data and application, the tagging of data is the major bottleneck in intelligent medicine in China, which is hard for most players in the game to break through as they are lack of solid background in the medical industry.
In the fierce race in intelligent medicine to access the best track, BAHEAL identified a new way and chose to work together with the strong in accessing intelligent medicine by following the strategy of “component introduction + program integration”.
“The products and technologies we introduce are all of the level for clinical application, which lays the foundation for BAHEAL’s position among the first,” said FU Gang.
Working with the Strong
“As far as key technologies are concerned, first-class products in the world will hardly be replaced in a short period of time,” said FU Gang. On the way to sprint for the first echelon toward intelligent medicine, BAHEAL has chosen to work with the strong and introduced the state-of-the-art technologies and most mature products in the world.
But the thing is why the strong have chosen BAHEAL?
“First-class companies have dreams and visions and they are not solely seeking for profits,” FU Gang clearly remembers the first teleconference with IBM’s Global Team on the introduction of Watson for Oncology (WfO).
“The project may cost tens of millions of US dollars and there are still a large number of uncertainties on whether it can be applied widely in the Chinese market. Is BAHEAL able to take such financial risks?” asked IBM Watson Health’s VP of Global Marketing.
“Tens of millions of US dollars will be worthy even if only one Chinese patient is saved with Watson for Oncology,” replied FU Gang.
Such a response was accepted by IBM. On March 28, 2017, BAHEAL obtained a three-year exclusive right as general agent and distributor of Watson for Oncology in the Chinese market; and three months later, it was granted the exclusive right as general agent of Watson for Genomics in China.
As a patient-specific reference tool for standard treatment at initial diagnosis of cancers, Watson for Oncology is the first application-level accomplishment of artificial intelligence in global medical field and the treatment protocols it provides cover 13 cancer types, including breast cancer, lung cancer and gastric cancer, etc.
“Watson for Oncology can comprehensively improve standard treatment of cancers in grass-roots hospitals and provide highly efficient, intelligent teaching tools for clinical training of hospitals and development of young doctors,” said FU Gang.
Watson for Oncology has been introduced across the Chinese market rapidly on the basis of BAHEAL’s mature patient education, brand operation capacity and hospital channels. By March, Watson for Oncology’s Multidisciplinary Consultation Centers have covered 65 hospitals and medical institutions in 39 cities of 22 provinces of the country.
Based on the results from BAHEAL’s wisdom of altruism, BAHEAL and IBM extended their strategic cooperation agreement on the exclusive right of general agent and distributor from three years to eight years.
IBM is only one of the members in BAHEAL’s frontline alliance of strong players; Oracle, Philips and Elekta, among other international tycoons, all offered the olive branches one after another. On August 14, 2017, BAHEAL and Oracle established “Spiegel Intelligent Marketing Cloud” and began to focus their efforts in precise pharmaceutical marketing; on November 17, BAHEAL entered into cooperation with Philips and introduced Nebula Workstation, an AI-based imaging-aided diagnosis system.
Introduction, promotion and application are just the first step. In BAHEAL’s territorial map of intelligent medicine, proprietary R&D is indispensable. On one hand, BAHEAL participates in R&D and improvement efforts during the course of the renovation and upgrade of first-class products in the world and reflects feedback from Chinese doctors in the treatment protocols. In June, for example, an upgraded version of Watson for Oncology will come out and will be more adaptable to local demand in China, “for which BAHEAL has been working shoulder by shoulder with IBM and provided a large quantity of practically useful advice and information”.
On the other hand, BAHEAL builds up BSmartD, a smart doctor platform, by integrating oncological decision support system, intelligent imaging diagnosis, radiotherapy solutions and other top-class intelligent medical products in the world. “There will be more and more intelligent applications in the future and we hope that BSmartD provides an entrance to integrate all sorts of outstanding application-level products to be provided for the Chinese doctors and hospitals,” said FU Gang.
Intelligent Medicine Territorial Map while working with the strong, BAHEAL’s territorial map of intelligent medicine is opening up slowly.
“Ever since it was established, BAHEAL has been dealing with hospitals, doctors and pharmaceutical companies for knowledge about practical medical scenarios, pain points and the latest progress in medical research,” said FU Gang.
This determines that each move by BAHEAL in the field of intelligent medicine is made based on authentic demand of the industry.
FU Gang says that intelligent medicine consists of smart hospitals and smart doctors. Therefore, BAHEAL puts forward a “New Medical Information-based Solution” to building smart hospitals and developing smart doctors through application of SaaS to software, application of HIS out of hospital and intelligent decision making.
Application of SaaS to software mainly tackles the “aeipathia” of isolated information resources of medical institutions. Unlike ordinary medical software providers, according to FU Gang, BAHEAL provides hospital information solutions based on the technology of cloud architecture which enable data sharing among medical institutions, increase hospital efficiency and improve quality of services for the patients; meanwhile substitution of cloud technology for conventional software also prevents repeated input.
Application of HIS out of hospital is a measure to follow the policy trend of “Separation of Clinic from Pharmacy”. BAHEAL has developed YFZ that connects HIS of hospitals with drugstores out of the hospitals.
It is said that YFZ consists of the hospital prescription information sharing platform, regional centralized drug procurement platform and the MIS retail settlement platform and its aim is to enable easy regulation by the government, reduction of costs in hospitals, increased income of drugstores and convenience for people. YFZ now covers more than a hundred hospitals and 350,000 patients in over 30 provinces and cities in China, and the daily quantity of delivered prescriptions is growing rapidly.
“In the following five to ten years, doctors in China will all access an era of intelligent medicine marked by integrated man and machine and artificial intelligence tools will be an extension of the intelligence of doctors,” said FU Gang.
To this end, BAHEAL has been working to facilitate intelligent decision making and has introduced first-class oncological decision support system, intelligent imaging diagnosis and radiotherapy solutions, among others.
BAHEAL’s territorial map of intelligent medicine also includes “drugs” in order to comprehensively satisfy people’s needs for health.
Targeting the poor efficiency in the drug circulation industry, on one hand, Spiegel Marketing Cloud helps retailers improve their management, optimize operating efficiency and, in the meantime, achieve intelligent customized precise marketing toward consumers, thus pushing forward transformation and upgrade of the industry.
On the other hand, work is being done in integrating industrial resources and empowering the drugstores, introducing “Total Solutions for BAHEAL Smart Drugstore”, supporting intelligent upgrade of conventional drugstores to make drugstores upgrade from single product sales to community health service centers. Moreover, BAHEAL is working with mainstream drug plants and industrial associations for creating “Smart Drugstore Project” to provide a standard monitoring passageway for innovative drugs and specific drugs to access the market and to improve the operation and maintenance of drugstores and specific drugs, such as for cancers, providers.
The initial outline of BAHEAL’s intelligent medicine territorial map has taken shape so far but FU Gang does not stop here.
“Without an entity as a prototype, the obstruction will be relatively substantial in applying many of our philosophies and solutions directly to hospitals,” said FU Gang. Based on Bodhi Healthcare, AHEAL is building up a full-process AI-based smart hospital prototype focused on cloud platform + artificial intelligence + talent platform.
Support of Industrial Synergy In an era of changes driven by technologies, it is speed that determines who is the winner. However, FU Gang has enough patience for “slowness”.
“I have passed the stage to be eager to make money. Now I have dreams and ambitions for intelligent medicine and is ready for long-term input,” said FU Gang. He is more concerned with whether intelligent medical products can effectively improve the Chinese patients’ survival and life quality than the profits in the short run.
The mentality of being slow is his insightful understanding of the medical and health industry.
“You need extraordinary tolerance to engage in the medical industry,” said FU Gang. Tolerance means “patience + strength”. You also need strength to keep you moving on if you have the patience.
He compares BAHEAL’s layout in the industry to a camel passing through a desert: a knowledge of how big the desert is and what reserves need to be made for the passage has been obtained before the journey starts; never run wildly once you are in the desert but moving on unswervingly towards a direction with your tolerance.
As far as BAHEAL is concerned, the confidence in laying out intelligent medicine with a slow mentality lies in the strong and solid foundation laid through intensive work in the medical industry in the past decade.
It is known that BPG achieved a sales amount of nearly 4 billion RMB in 2017 and paid about 300 million RMB for taxes. Through years of operation layout, BAHEAL has built up a marketing network covering over 12,000 hospitals and 200,000 drugstores in more than 30 provinces and cities in China, which is not only a solid base that backs up conventional main businesses but also, more importantly, provides the innovation segment with a stable group of customers and strong ability for industrial synergies.
“With a slow mentality, BAHEAL does not advance slowly. We take opportunities in every technical change and grow fast,” said FU Gang.