Banker's Digest

Banker's Digest


台灣銀行家雜誌第92期106.08 / Tao Hsiao-man

Special interview: Wu Tsung-tsong, Minister Without Portfolio, Executive YuanSupport Taiwan's information and communication talent, The smart medical alliance can go global
In recent years, much of the world's population has aged, resulting in greater healthcare expenditure. Some of these people require extensive treatment. Smart medicine is one way to alleviate the stress an aging population places on a nation's healthcare system, and it is a key policy inititative under President Tsai Ing-wen's 5+2 Industrial Innovation Program. Taiwan's ICT foundation is robust, making it a logical place to build a smart-medical sector with its high value-added applications. It's both an opportunity and challenge for Taiwan. To learn more about the how Taiwan can develop the smart medical sector, Taiwan Banker interviewed Wu Tsung-tsong, Minister Without Portfolio, Executive Yuan. Wu discussed solutions that would be beneficial for the key parties involved: the medical sector, investors and the ICT industry. The government will strengthen integration of smart medical work across industries and departmentsTaiwan has strengths both in the quality of its medical services and its ICT sector. But to develop the smart medical sector here, it must first resolve three major issues. First, integration of smart medical work across different industries is insufficient. Second, integration across different government departments of smart medical work is inadequate. Third, some firms are reluctant to do research and development in the smart medical sector. In the past, Taiwan's Ministry of Science and Technology was responsible for smart medical R&D, while the Ministry of Economics oversaw development of the industry and the Ministry of Health and Welfare supervised relevant laws and regulations. Because of the lack of integration, many problems arose, particularly pertaining to information security and privacy and the national health insurance database.Wu believes market forces should be given a larger role in the development of the smart medical sector. For instance, in southern Taiwan following the founding of the Epidemic Prevention Center, more than 10 small companies are focused on using big data to analyze Taiwan's dengue fever situation. Drones are used to monitor infected mosquitoes. This type of R&D work requires requires better integration among government offices to be fruitful. For instance, epidemic prevention is the responsibility of the Ministry of Health and Welfare, but that entity is not authorized to promote industrial development. A system must be created that links the different government bodies. In the past many foreign pharmaceutical firms wanted to launch new drugs in Taiwan, but they became discouraged by Taiwan's slow approval process - which is the responsibility of the Ministry of Health and Welfare. In Wu's view, in addition to taking into consideration drug safety, Taiwan should boost the quality of talent among its drug inspectors. But to do so, the Legislative Yuan first needs to relax restrictions on the employment of foreign professionals here. Wu said that the government would focus on improving the business environment for the medical industry, including relevant regulations, talent, funding and more. He said that the Ministry of Health and Welfare is the key organization in the field of health and medicine. The Ministry should be operating optimally to benefit the overall industry, he explained, adding that he hopes the Ministry will embrace opportunities in the smart medical sector. Taiwan has seen good results in smart hospital management Many nations are working to implement smart medical technology in their healthcare systems, including the US, UK, Canada, Australia and Japan. In this highly competitive environment, Taiwan has had success developing smart medical solutions of its own. Thanks to its experience in the China market, Changhua Christian Hospital has been successful in the smart medical field. It has helped found six medical firms. Further, together with BenQ and iMedtac Changhua Christian Hospital plans to build Smart Hospital 2.0, a one-stop-shop for smart medicine. It will include a smart patient room, smart medicine storage, smart hospital GPS, a cloud platform, and have the capability to do big data analysis . BenQ and iMedtac have also researched how to use robots in hospitals. Certain tasks in hospitals can be automated (for example, some administrative work) so that hospital staff can focus on the work that requires human beings. In Wu's view, Changhua Christian Hospital's Smart Hospital 2.0 and other related initiatives together with the New Southbound Policy will provide the impetus for the development of complete smart medical solutions in Asean countries. Exporting Taiwan's smart medical expertise Besides Changhua Christian Hospital, the Suang-Lien Elderly Center in Taipei is also using ICT well to provide long-term care for the elderly. This is something Taiwan can export. The Suang-Lien Elderly Center was founded in 1995 by Suang Lien Presbyterian Church and works together with the Ministry of Economic Affairs. Suang-Lien Elderly Center currently has 40 different projects in China, Singapore and Taiwan that showcase Taiwan's smart care service model. This business model integrates hardware, software, services, talent training and supporting tools. In another example of Taiwan's smart medical prowess, MedicusTek INC has deployed IoT technology, artificial intelligence and big data analysis to create a smart hospital bed system which reduces bed sores in patients and prevents them falling out of bed. In the past, it was necessary for a person to handle this work rather than machines. MedicusTek INC's smart bed system has been approved by Taiwan's Food and Drug Administration and been registered as a Class 1 medical device by the US Food and Drug Administration. It has passed clinical trials in the Kaiser Permanente in the US and Taiwan's Landseed Hospital and Koo Foundation Sun Yat-sen Cancer Center. MedicusTek worked together with the Industrial Development Bureau's Nangang IC Design Center to develop its smart bed system for domestic use and export. Integrated smart medical solutions in Asean In the past, doctors sometimes had difficulty obtaining patients' paper records and x-ray results. Sometimes office politics played an important role in the process. Since the documents were not easy to store and transit of them took time, sometimes they were damaged. Today, we live in a digital age in which patient records can be transported seamlessly among different doctors and hospitals. It's more environmentally friendly this way; it saves space, and alleviates pressure on hospital workers.Beginning in 2012, EBM Technologies took responsibility of storing digital patient records from the Ministry of Health and Welfare. The digital storage system is composed of a medical image system and patient records. EBM has developed a medical cloud platform that connects 406 hospitals and 5900 clinics as well as all public health centers in Taiwan. Thanks to this platform, a patient does not need to see multiple doctors before receiving a diagnosis. In the future, Taiwan may develop other smart medical value-added services in addition to digital patient records. EMB Technologies has used its Taiwan experience to expand internationally. In addition to its successes in Taiwan, EMB has built up a presence in Japan, China and Thailand. For instance, Taipei Medical University and Quanta Computer recently teamed up to make a mock smart hospital lab that uses cloud computing to provide remote long-term care; this is a good example of cross-industry cooperation for the purpose of smart medicine. It's a brand new type of medical service. With the government advocating that firms explore opportunities in Asean, a number of Taiwanese companies have brought integrated smart medical solutions to Cathay Hospital, including Sysco, GSS, ICP Electronics and EPED. They hope to work together with Cathay to tap opportunities in Southeast Asia. Next-generation healthcareWu notes that Taiwan is a leader in Asia in terms of digitizing medical records. Taiwan has made great strides in many areas of smart medicine, including cloud-based medical records, telehealth, medical images management and smart hospitals. Taiwan is a global leader in the semiconductor sector, which has many applications in smart medicine. For instance, Wu went to San Diego this year to visit a DNA sequencing company. The company has more than 6,000 employees and has doubled in size over the past decade. Taiwan Semiconductor manufactures the chips the company uses to select DNA. In the future, Taiwan must move up the global value chain and move beyond the mentality of a contract manufacturer, Wu said. Under the government's guidance and with its strong ICT base, Taiwan has an excellent opportunity to develop comprehensive smart medicine solutions for both domestic use and export. By 2025, Taiwan's health and medicine sector could reach an annual growth rate of 9%, up from the current 6%, and Taiwan could become a hub of smart-medicine innovation.


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