Ping An’s health tech arm enters research agreement with HKU’s Medical AI Lab Program

This cooperation aims to estimate the effectiveness of AI algorithm based on OCT multimodal imaging and fundus photography for disease screening and diagnosis.
By Dean Koh
10:01 PM

Credit: Ping An

Ping An International Smart City Technology (PAISCT), a subsidiary of Ping An Insurance (Group) Company of China, has signed a research agreement with Medical Artificial Intelligence Lab Program (MAIL) of the Department of Diagnostic Radiology at the University of Hong Kong (HKU) to clinically evaluate their AI-based optical coherence tomography (OCT) retinal disease screening system. OCT is a high-resolution, non-contact and non-invasive diagnostic technique that renders an in vivo cross-sectional view of the retina.

The AI OCT system is a screening and referral system for eye diseases, combining the analysis software employing AI trained on input from clinical experts, OCT eye imaging technology and colour fundus photography.

What’s it about

The one year research project will commence from May 2019 to April 2020. All clinical studies will be led by MAIL, under Professor Michael D. Kuo, Director of (MAIL) Program, together with Dr. Vince Vardhanabhuti, Clinical Assistant Professor from the Department of Diagnostic Radiology, HKU, and its clinical partner Dr. Jasper Wong, Clinical Assistant Professor from the Department of Ophthalmology, HKU.

The project initially involves the recruitment of 500 patients, with continuous enrollment of consenting subjects. Both eyes OCT and fundus data generated by PAISCT’s OCT and fundus AI tools will be collected. PAISCT provides AI models to do screening and generate reports. MAIL will be responsible for the clinical study design, implementation and analysis.   

This cooperation aims to estimate the effectiveness of AI algorithm based on OCT multimodal imaging and fundus photography for disease screening and diagnosis and jointly explore the new workflow of patient management.

What’s the trend

In January this year, Deqing county hospital in Guangdong Province, China launched free consultations featuring AI cameras to detect ocular fundus diseases. Co-developed by Baidu and Sun Yat-sen University, the instrument is capable of diagnosing three types of fundus disorders -- diabetic retinopathy, glaucoma and macular degeneration.

In India, Google and its sister organisation Verily, the life sciences division of Alphabet, have been developing a new machine learning algorithm to help expand access to and efficacy of screening for diabetic retinopathy and diabetic macular edema. The algorithm has been refined and is now in clinical use at the Aravind Eye Hospital in Madurai, in the southern state of Tamil Nadu.