Health Ministry supporting advanced tech at state hospitals

Thailand’s people will be receiving even better medical care as the Ministry of Public Health is encouraging state-run hospitals to adopt artificial intelligence, the Internet of Things, and other advanced technologies already in use at Thai private hospitals that have earned a global reputation for quality care.
“The idea is to ensure that people efficiently receive safe and quality health services and that medical personnel have modern and effective means for seamless working, while administrators have a quality and updated health information system,” said Public Health Minister Dr. Piyasakol Sakolsatayadorn.

The United Nations have cited Thailand’s public health care system as a positive example of what a developing nation can achieve and provide for its citizens. The Kingdom’s private hospitals have attained international recognition for their excellent treatments at affordable costs. One Thai private hospital was the subject of a feature on the American television show 60 Minutes, and Thailand is among the leaders in global medical tourism.

Piyasakol said adopting emerging technologies and using big data could result in better patient care in public hospitals and health facilities. The government has put forth a “Smart Hospital” policy as part of Thailand 4.0, the 20-year national strategy to transform the Kingdom into a country driven by higher technology, innovation, and green technologies.

Turning a hospital into a smart hospital is a multi-faceted endeavor. In a smart hospital, all devices are designed to be connected and integrated to increase efficiency and reduce time loss. Big data is used to make patient information more readily available to healthcare professionals for continuous improvement, decreasing recurrent disease and improving quality of life by enhancing communication channels between people and hospitals throughout the system.

A smart hospital also does more to educate patients and the public on health and how to care for themselves to reduce illness and disease.

Some public hospitals are already using “smart kiosks” to register out-patients, cut down on waiting time, print queue cards, and check on appointments and benefit coverage for those seeking services and information.

Piyasakol said the ministry is conducting research on applying artificial intelligence (AI) technology to assist doctors in diagnoses. For instance, Bangkok’s Rajavithi Hospital’s Center of Medical Excellence in Retina Care has joined a Google research team studying the ability of AI software to read digitized retina images and help diagnose retinopathy.

Rajavithi Hospital also plans to implement more innovative treatments including 3D visualization-assisted surgery, 3D-printed casts for fractures or the use of virtual reality (VR) to distract patients from pain, the minister said.