Pact uses AI for testing
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Pact uses AI for testing

Thai agency and AstraZeneca team up to offer technology to check for cancer

Pact uses AI for testing
Mr Nuttapon, left, and Mr Ramos sign the MoU on Friday on accelerating the development and delivery of digital healthcare in Thailand. Mr Prasert, centre of the back row, presided at the ceremony.

The Digital Economy and Society (DES) Ministry and the Digital Economy Promotion Agency (Depa) have partnered with biopharmaceutical firm AstraZeneca (Thailand) to increase digital healthcare innovations in the Thai public health system to improve quality of life.

The latest cooperation through a memorandum of understanding (MoU) is to expand the use of artificial intelligence (AI) technology for initial lung cancer screening.

The results are expected to be applied to other types of cancer screening through a network of hospitals to serve more than 1 million people across the country.

DES Minister Prasert Chanthararuangthong said a shortage of healthcare personnel, the increasing number of elderly people, and the rise of emerging diseases all pose challenges to Thailand's public health system.

Following the pandemic, all parts of the world, including Thailand, recognise the need to reform their public health systems to prepare for future events, he said.

The introduction of AI technology will play a significant role in that transformation, said Mr Prasert.

The Thai government realises AI technology can be applied to work systems to reduce time, procedures and costs while improving accuracy, enhancing the quality of life for Thais, he said.

The latest move to accelerate the development and delivery of digital healthcare in Thailand is intended to expand service opportunities in remote areas and hospitals where it is necessary to reduce the cost of health check-ups, said Mr Prasert.

"The government seeks to provide comprehensive and equitable assistance to all sectors," he said.

"This is why Depa and AstraZeneca (Thailand) signed the latest MoU."

Depa president and chief executive Nuttapon Nimmanphatcharin said the agency signed its first MoU with AstraZeneca (Thailand) since 2021 to develop the digital healthcare industry and innovation.

Past successes include a pilot "Don't Wait, Get Checked" campaign in collaboration with Banphaeo General Hospital, applying AI technology to screen for early lung cancer in more than 10,000 patients, said Mr Nuttapon.

The agency also collaborated with the Thoracic Society of Thailand to develop "Asthma Excellence", a smartphone application that accumulates data about asthma treatment.

In recent years, more than 3,000 healthcare professionals nationwide have used the app to facilitate and enhance patient care.

"The collaboration helps to enhance the public health system in Thailand as well as advance the use of AI for initial lung cancer screening, expanding the results to other types of cancer screening and prognoses," he said.

Mr Nuttapon said Depa intends to work with hospitals to serve more than 1 million people nationwide and to expand service opportunities in remote locations, including hospitals that need to reduce the cost of health check-up services.

Roman Ramos, country president of AstraZeneca (Thailand), said the MoU will improve the capability of early-stage lung cancer screening with AI technology in public hospital networks, allowing patients to receive immediate treatment.

The method is effective and helps reduce mortality, he said.

Mr Ramos said the latest collaboration also includes expanding the scope of work to provincial or regional government agencies and developing the use of AI for patients with other types of cancer, including liver, breast, prostate and ovarian.

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