By Wang Zhe
At a community health center in the Cambodia Sihanoukville Special Economic Zone (SSEZ), a doctor uses a stethoscope equipped with sensors to listen to the chest of an asthma patient.
At the same time, medical experts in China monitor the sound of the patient’s lungs in real time and learn about his medications with the help of Internet of Things (IoT) technology.
Moreover, every time the patient receives nebulizer therapy in Cambodia, results of the patient’s pulmonary function test are transmitted to a data center in China, so that medical professionals are able to intervene if any problems arise during treatment.
One might think such dreamlike scenes only exist in science fiction movies, but they are now becoming a reality. At the Smart Health Care Summit Forum held in Wuxi in eastern China’s Jiangxu Province on Sept. 11, 2017, as a part of the World Internet of Things Expo (WIOT), experts introduced frontier technology progress made in the application of IoT in the healthcare industry. It is noteworthy that China has promoted its Internet of Medical Things (IoMT) technology to ASEAN member states and other countries participating in the Belt and Road Initiative.
Smart Nebulization Center
The IoMT functions like a highway that breaks away isolation and facilitates information sharing. Through IoT, blood sugar levels can be tested by equipment attached to ears or fingers, body temperature can be read by skin thermometers, patients’ conditions can be understood by smart shoes which collect information about gait and robot doctors capable of making quick diagnoses can improve poor areas in need of qualified medical staff. All these medical services are already a part or are about to become a part of China’s IoMT.
At the Smart Health Care Summit Forum, an IoT-based standard technical system of pulmonary function testing and nebulizer therapy jointly developed by Chinese pharmaceutical companies was introduced as a solution to a lack of standardized diagnosis and treatment of respiratory diseases. As there are millions of people receiving nebulizer therapy for acute asthma every day, a map of nebulization can be drawn up using IoT technology and thus data analysis can be conducted to understand the effect of factors such as allergens and air temperature on individuals. If effective communication on these data can be realized, then a variety of applications can be developed. For example, these data can be shared with weather station or schools in real time to warn children suffering from asthma of potential risks. Together with its partners, AstraZeneca, a world-leading pharmaceutical company, has already built 1,320 comprehensive respiratory clinics and 12,900 standard nebulization centers covering over 260 cities in China, helping millions of asthma patients breathe well again and lead a healthy life.
During the forum, a nebulization center in Sihanoukville was inaugurated and an “IoMT going global” project under the framework of the Belt and Road Initiative officially kicked off. The project is committed to bringing benefits to every patient in need through China’s IoT technology. The Cambodia Sihanoukville nebulization center built by AstraZeneca (Wuxi) is the fruit of the first phase of the project. In the second and third phases, more nebulization centers will be launched in Southeast Asian countries, such as Vietnam, Indonesia, Thailand, Malaysia and the Philippines, and Eurasian states like Russia and Kazakhstan.
“This meeting is of great significance, as it takes the first step to introducing a world-class treatment system for respiratory diseases,” said Wang Chen of the Chinese Academy of Engineering and president of the China-Japan Friendship Hospital. “I hope it can help promote the development of respiratory medicine in other countries and regions.”
SSEZ Community Health Center
To help improve local medical services, a community health center in the SSEZ, home to the nebulization center built by AstraZeneca (Wuxi), began operating this year and is equipped with a professional medical team. On Sept. 22, three doctors from Wuxi People’s Hospital set out for a six-month medical assistance program in the SSEZ.
The SSEZ community health center was jointly built by Wuxi Health and the Family Planning Commission and Provincial Health Department of Sihanoukville, while the Wuxi People’s Hospital is responsible for assisting the SSEZ in construction work and sending the first Chinese medical team to Cambodia.
Now, a batch of medical supplies provided by the Wuxi People’s Hospital have arrived at the SSEZ community health center, including 27 sets of equipment including electrocardiographs, stretchers, automatic biochemical analyzers and microscopes and medicines for first aid and common internal and gynecological diseases. Considering the spectrum of local diseases and common diseases of the SSEZ staff, three doctor of the Wuxi People’s Hospital were selected as members of the first Chinese medical team at the SSEZ community health center. They are Guo Jian from the obstetrics and gynecology department, Cao Hui from the gastroenterology department and Yu Lei from laboratory department.
The Wuxi People’s Hospital plays an important role in supporting the medical assistance program in Sihanoukville. According to the Wuxi City People’s Hospital CPC Committee deputy secretary Yao Yong, equipped with devices like a 50-inch LCD TV, a computer with a 19.5-inch LCD monitor, a video conference terminal and a high-speed photographic apparatus with a digital camera, an IoT-based remote medical consultation center has been set up in the Hospital to realize real-time communication with the SSEZ community health center. “Experts in our hospital are always ready for difficult cases,” Yao said. “Through the remote consultation platform, they give timely instructions to the three doctors in the SSEZ community health center.”
When the six-month term of the first medical team comes to an end, the next group of medical personnel will be selected from other municipal public hospitals in Wuxi. According to an official of the Wuxi Health and Family Planning Commission, the resident staff in the SSEZ community health center will continue to provide local residents and Chinese staff in the SSEZ with qualified medical services, contributing to the well-being of the Cambodian people.