Wenzhou Medical University Eye Hospital forms artificial intelligence strategic alliance with Airdoc

China has the world’s largest population of the blind and visually impaired. Data shows that China has about 550 million patients with myopia, 10 million glaucoma patients, 6 million cataract patients and 11.6 million fundus neovascular disease patients. Ametropia, glaucoma and cataracts and other blinding diseases gradually show a growing trend among younger people. To better promote eye health, China’s National Health and Family Planning Commision issued the “Thirteenth Five-Year Plan for National Eye Health (2016 to 2020)”.

Artificial intelligence and deep learning has advanced to the point where machines can simulate the human thought process. This advancement has subsequently led to the rapid development of artificial intelligence in medical image recognition, which is now used to identify and diagnose eye diseases.

On August 14, Wenzhou Medical University Eye Hospital (Zhejiang Province Eye Hospital) and the leader in medical AI Airdoc announced a joint vision research and development center. At the signing ceremony, the two sides announced that they will commit to the developments and advancements in the field of intelligent optometry applications.

In attendance at the signing ceremony were, Wenzhou Medical University Eye Optic Hospital Dean Qu Jia, Airdoc founder and CEO Ray Zhang, Airdoc chief medical officer Yuzhong Chen, Airdoc VP of marketing Richard Zhang, among dozens of others.

The two sides will jointly establish a AI-powered intelligent eye vision center, to research and develop intelligent eye disease imaging and intelligent eye examination systems, leveraging ophthalmic data and AI applications from both parties.

Previously, Airdoc had worked with the Wenzhou Medical University Eye Hospital to develop a children’s vision-change prediction model. Airdoc successfully analyzed the results of optometry results relative to age trends. For example, 6–11 years are the most critical age with regards to vision changes. Airdoc’s algorithm can predict future vision changes based on current age and vision results .

For this cooperation, Wenzhou Medical University Eye Hospital president Qu Jia said: “Professional work should be left to the professionals. As the hospital looks to develop medical applications of artificial intelligence, it makes sense to take a cooperative approach.”

According to Qu’s view, hospitals need to leverage the right players in advanced technology. This avoids the situation of professional work being done by non-professionals, leading ultimately to less than desirable results. The Eye Optometry Hospital is a professional in the field of medicine, and Airdoc is a professional in the field of artificial intelligence, which is the basis of cooperation between our two sides.

Qu admits that there is still a long way to go for artificial intelligence in clinical application, but proven potential show good prospects for the development of new technologies, we should make full use of existing resources to actively explore and research.

Airdoc founder and chief executive officer Ray Zhang Dalei, “The two sides will leverage their respective expertise to jointly promote the organic combination of artificial intelligence technology and ophthalmic clinicians, to optimize the doctor-patient relationship.

Eye Vision + Artificial Intelligence Applications

The first collaborative project is a smart cataract surgery platform.

In China about 200 million people each year undergo cataract surgery. Airdoc builds on China’s cataract knowledge base based on massive clinical data, and develops specific solutions based on different eyes to assist physician in making surgical decisions.

The second project is a keratoconus intelligent assisted diagnosis. Research conducted by Wenzhou Medical University Eye Hospital and Airdoc is based on massive clinical data to develop an intelligent auxiliary diagnostic model. This diagnostic model is expected to help with rapid screening of the various stages of keratoconus cases.

Intelligent ophthalmic diagnosis is the third area of collaboration. Today, the ophthalmic hospitals are overcrowded, with long lines for patients, resulting in poor patient experience, as well as overwhelmed doctors. The plan is to leverage artificial intelligence to solve this problem. Artificial intelligence can quickly help refer patients to the appropriate type of doctor, so as to enhance the efficiency of doctors, saving patients’ wait time.

The last collaborative project is juvenile myopia intelligent progression prediction.

China’s juvenile myopia rate ranks first in the country. Hampered by the amount of data and methods, accurate myopia progression prediction is difficult.

Airdoc built an AI model by using massive data from the Eye Hospital of Wenzhou Medical University. The model is used to predict myopia progression in 3–17 year-olds spanning from their current to 18 years of age.

Speaking of data mining, Wenzhou Medical University Eye Hospital Information Management Director Wang Xiaoxing said: “Most of the detection and data processing equipment have been well-structured. The multi-device data has already been integrated into the information management system. With the DICOM agreement, we will be able to transmit Airdoc’s AI information through the hospital system. Of course, it has the benefit of building on over 10 years of the hospital’s information technology platform.

Zhang Dalei said of the business model, “At this stage the entire industry is absolutely overheating, and we certainly hope to make it big, but Airdoc is not simply just about business, we hope to help the hospital in scientific research, clinical treatment efficiency, to solve the problem of scarce domestic medical resources.

Integrating AI into medicine is a long-term endeavor, so businesses must be patient. Now many artificial intelligence companies have surfaced in the field of cancer, and the ophthalmic market is also growing. As long as we can create a real product, that can create value, the business aspects need not worry about business opportunities.

Airdoc has made great progress in AI the fields of ophthalmology, dermatology, cardiovascular, neurology and so on. With Airdoc involved in research in these diseases, its business model, product promotion, profit model will bring us some insight into the field of artificial intelligence.