How Alibaba Cloud ET Medical Brain Is Transforming Healthcare with Artificial Intelligence

Why Artificial Intelligence Is Crucial for Healthcare

Artificial Intelligence (AI) has the potential to cut-down treatment costs by as much as 50%, and improve medical treatment outcomes by 30% to 40%, according to a report by Frost and Sullivan. But, before we start discussing AI advancements in the healthcare industry, it is important to understand what the technology is and why it is making so much hype. For the uninitiated, AI is an umbrella term for a range of technologies such as machine learning, cognitive computing, deep learning, neural networks, and natural language processing. The end goal of all these technologies is to impart “smartness” to computers so that they can behave in a manner akin to humans, or even better.

Startups Joining the AI Bandwagon in Healthcare

To expedite AI research in the healthcare industry, Google is supporting several AI-based healthcare startups through its accelerator platform Launchpad Studio. These startups are receiving development support such as datasets and testing environments for prototyping, and guidance from Google’s mentors. Apart from Google’s batch of medical AI startups, there are numerous other AI-based startups that have gained popularity in the recent times.

  1. Brendan Frey’s Deep Genomics aims to build a data and AI-driven platform for geneticists, molecular biologists, and chemists for medical research.
  2. Turbine has designed an AI solution for personalized treatments of all cancer types, which is much faster than traditional methods.
  3. Israel-based Beyond Verbal is using AI to detect human emotions and vocal biomarkers for identifying various health conditions.
  4. Medicrea Group has developed a data-driven portal for its adaptive spine intelligence technology. It uses analytics and machine learning to assist spine surgeons in developing personalized implants for patients.
  5. AI-chatbots are also making their impact in the healthcare industry. Different medical institutions have deployed chatbots to help customers in identifying a suitable benefit plan and provide customer support responses. Some startups are also exploring the possibility of AI-powered chatbots that can assist in self-diagnosis based on the symptoms and wearable device/smartphone data.

Alibaba Cloud Driving the Change in the Medical Industry

In recent years, China has invested heavily in artificial intelligence, aiming to be a world-leader in AI by 2025. The Chinese government recently set aside $2.12 billion for development of an AI technology park near Beijing. This park will promote firms working in the field of big-data, deep learning, and cloud computing. While China has only recently started pushing AI research and development work, firms like Alibaba Cloud have already made significant progress in developing AI-driven applications for the medical industry.

  1. In 2016, Alibaba Cloud collaborated with Intel and BGI Genomics to launch a large-scale bioinformatics analysis platform capable of sequencing entire human genome within 24 hours.
  2. In 2017, Alibaba Health launched Doctor You which is an intelligent diagnostics solution that uses image recognition for early diagnosis of cancer. Alibaba Cloud has also partnered with Wuhan Landing Medical High-tech Co. to develop a system that detects early-stage cervical cancer using cell cytology. This system uses advanced visual computation and AI technologies. Further, Alibaba Cloud is training machines to read high-resolution CT scans and detect lung cancers.
  3. Alibaba Cloud launched ET Medical Brain in March 2017. It is a comprehensive suite of AI-based solutions for the medical industry. Medical institutions can use these solutions for drug development and hospital management. They can also create virtual assistants using the AI platform. Some advanced applications leverage AI-based medical imaging for diagnosis of diseases and tumors. The solution improves the accuracy of detection and reduces misdiagnosis.


We have seen numerous examples and applications of AI in the medical industry. While this isn’t an exhaustive list, it should give a brief overview of the AI trends dominant in the industry. AI, Big Data, and Blockchain led advances have already started the transformation. One can expect that the ongoing research will lead to breakthroughs in the development of drugs for diseases that doctors today find incurable. Big Data and AI solutions will help scientists in finding solutions to prevent pandemics. Further, numerous applications and virtual assistants would increase the coverage of healthcare for the masses.



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