A.I. can improve health care in China, says Ping An Technology CEO

Key Points
  • Artificial intelligence is still a relatively new technology, but Ping An Technology CEO Ericson Chan says its applications are already generating real value.
  • Chan pointed to the Chinese health-care sector where about 8% of the hospitals handle more than half of all patients in China, which results in long waiting times to see a doctor.
  • Ping An has developed AI-powered technology services that it claims can predict chronic illnesses and infectious diseases with high accuracy as well as scan large volumes of medical images for abnormalities at a relatively short time.
Ericson Chan, chief executive officer of Ping An Technology. 
S3studio | Getty Images

Artificial intelligence is still a relatively new technology but one business leader said its applications are already generating real value.

For AI to become more mainstream, start-ups and tech giants have to understand the bottlenecks that businesses face, which can be solved by that technology, according to Ericson Chan, CEO of China's Ping An Technology.

"Look at China, for example — only 8% of the hospitals are triple-A grade," he told CNBC's Arjun Kharpal on Tuesday at the RISE Conference in Hong Kong. "But that 8% of the hospitals are taking care of more than 50% of the patients of the whole nation."

As a result, resources are unevenly distributed, which, in turn, sours the patients' experiences at those hospitals, he said.

"You need to wait for more than three hours before you can see a doctor, and the consultations are no more than 7 or 8 minutes," Chan said, adding that the doctors, meanwhile, "need to work for more than 12 hours a day."

That's where AI can help ease the friction experienced by patients and health-care providers.

Ping An Technology is a wholly owned subsidiary of a major conglomerate in China, Ping An Group. The company's focus is on applying various technologies, including artificial intelligence, in areas such as health care, finance and smart cities.

It has developed AI systems that it says can predict the likelihood of a patient suffering from a specific chronic illness even before physical symptoms are present, or identify infectious diseases in advance with high accuracy. Its programs claim to be able to spot abnormalities in medical image scans that would normally take doctors a much longer time to do manually.

"We can take it down to like five minutes, so it's a lot more efficient, a lot more accurate, also," Chan said. "Afterwards, we can even have AI technologies do follow up with the patients."