Innovating for a Healthier Future

Published May 19, 2021, 12:03 AM

by Jonathan Castillo

Written by Allen Guo, country manager for the Philippines, Alibaba Cloud Intelligence

The fight against the pandemic has proven to be a race against time. Whether it be getting much needed medical supplies to healthcare professionals, detecting new outbreaks before they manifest, controlling the spread of new variants or rolling out vaccines, every second counts. COVID-19 has shed light on how technology can help healthcare be more efficient, predictive, and collaborative. 

Allen Guo

Cloud computing, in particular, has the power to pave a smoother road towards helping patients recover, while allowing the industry to leapfrog into the future of healthcare. Hospitals and doctors around the world are constantly looking for solutions to increase efficiency and reduce the pressure on frontline medical professionals, and the Philippines has been no exception. Cloud technology can be used to help health systems innovative, both in an urgent situation and over the long-term.  

The ability to see patients remotely is one of the silver linings of the pandemic. Cloud computing can support remote patient monitoring. It can also be scaled up to support “pop-up” hospitals by using service desk technology. Where insights are concerned, the cloud can accurately predict staff and patient capacity needs, as well as contact tracing and disease surveillance. Over the long-term, deep learning algorithms can be developed to rapidly assess raw medical images, to screen, predict or diagnose disease – COVID-19 and others.

These are just a few examples of how the agility, scalability and low-cost of cloud technology can help our healthcare system innovate for a better future.  

At Alibaba Cloud, we are working to make this a reality by enabling healthcare providers in Asia to transform their operations. We developed a series of AI and cloud-based solutions to help with the current global efforts to fight against the COVID-19 pandemic, including Epidemic Prediction Solution, CT Image Analytics Solution and opening up Alibaba Cloud’s computational platform to worldwide research groups and institutions who are working on vaccine development.

Take our work with PuraPharm International (Hong Kong) Ltd. for example. With Alibaba Cloud, PuraPharm created dynamic clinic management and medicine dispensing systems, allowing the company to meet real-time demands and manage data for easier analysis, as well as reducing IT-infrastructure and maintenance costs by 30 percent. 

To take it up a notch, our AI-powered systems can harness the power of data to provide useful insights into the pandemic and speed up testing and the release of results. Alibaba DAMO Academy, a global research initiative by Alibaba, developed a CT image analytics solution that can significantly improve testing accuracy and detection efficiency for diagnosing COVID-19. With deep-learning algorithms trained by data in China, the trained model can predict the probability of different pneumonia types, including the variety associated with COVID-19. The whole test takes about 3 to 4 seconds to run and 15 to 16 seconds of transmission time, making it nearly 60 times faster than human detection. Around 160 hospitals in China are currently utilizing these technologies to aid in their pandemic response. 

Moreover, to facilitate communication among global medical experts, DingTalk, Alibaba’s digital collaboration workplace, launched the International Medical Expert Communication Center, allowing experts all over the world to share their invaluable experience in fighting COVID-19. The platform provides instantaneous multi-language translation, remote video conferencing and many other functions to ensure real-time knowledge exchange.

We have made inroads at home in the Philippines. With more than 20 local partners across a wide range of sectors we are exploring ways to help the country’s fight against the pandemic. As the leading public cloud service provider in Asia Pacific, we provide localized solutions and all its major products – such as its elastic computing, database, and network and security services – to empower the digital transformation of enterprises in the Philippines. 

At the time of writing, the Philippines has recorded over a million COVID-19 cases. As we have seen in other places in Asia, rampant testing along with contact tracing is an effective means to control the rapid spread of the virus. Cloud technology can help track, store and process the massive amounts of insights needed to produce results and track the virus’ movement in a secure, well-structured and accessible database. This will support more accurate data analysis, faster results, contact tracing and dissemination that can save time and lives. 

Building a better future for healthcare requires collaboration and innovation. At Alibaba Cloud we want to further our work with healthcare institutions that share our vision and want to take advantage of emerging technology. 

The early adopters of cloud services have been able to reap the benefits for some time now and are innovating for a better future. Cloud computing is not only viable, but essential to healthcare, especially in the shadow of the pandemic.