AstraZeneca and Thai agencies collaborate to boost AI in healthcare

Picture courtesy of Bangkok Post.

The Digital Economy and Society (DES) Ministry and the Digital Economy Promotion Agency (Depa) have joined forces with AstraZeneca (Thailand), a biopharmaceutical company, to boost digital healthcare innovation within the Thai public health system. Their goal is to enhance the quality of life for Thai citizens through the use of cutting-edge technology.

The most recent collaboration involves a memorandum of understanding (MoU) to extend the usage of artificial intelligence (AI) for preliminary lung cancer screenings. The findings are projected to be utilised for other cancer screenings, reaching more than 1 million people through a network of hospitals nationwide.

Prasert Chanthararuangthong, the DES Minister, highlighted the challenges faced by Thailand’s public health system, including a shortage of healthcare workers, an ageing population, and the emergence of new diseases. He emphasised the need for health system reform in the wake of the global pandemic, with AI technology playing a crucial role in this transformation.

The government acknowledges the potential of AI to streamline work systems, cut costs, and enhance accuracy, ultimately improving the quality of life for Thai citizens.

Prasert revealed the objective of the recent push for digital healthcare development and delivery is to broaden service availability in remote areas and hospitals where there is a need to reduce health check-up costs, reported Bangkok Post.

“The government seeks to provide comprehensive and equitable assistance to all sectors. This is why Depa and AstraZeneca (Thailand) signed the latest MoU.”

Nuttapon Nimmanphatcharin, Depa’s president and chief executive, noted that the agency has been working with AstraZeneca (Thailand) since 2021 to foster innovation in the digital healthcare industry.

Successful initiatives include the Don’t Wait, Get Checked campaign, which used AI for early lung cancer screening in over 10,000 patients.

The agency also collaborated with the Thoracic Society of Thailand to develop Asthma Excellence, a smartphone app that collates asthma treatment data. The app is currently used by over 3,000 healthcare professionals across the country to improve patient care.

Depa plans to collaborate with hospitals to serve over 1 million people nationwide and expand services to remote areas, including hospitals where there is a need to reduce the cost of health check-ups, Nuttapon added.

Roman Ramos, country president of AstraZeneca (Thailand), expressed optimism that the MoU will improve early-stage lung cancer screening with AI technology in public hospitals, enabling immediate treatment for patients.

He also announced plans to extend the use of AI for early detection of other types of cancer, including liver, breast, prostate, and ovarian.

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