Carestream Health mulls cloud platform to bolster efficiency

Updated: 2016-04-22 08:27

By Zhong Nan(China Daily)

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The company is in talks with several large hospitals and IT firms about the project

Carestream Health Inc, a provider of medical imaging systems and information technology solutions based in the United States, will build a cloud platform to establish a new clinical ecosystem in China, a top executive said.

The company is discussing the project with several large hospitals and IT companies including Alibaba Group Holding Ltd, with whom Carestream has already announced a partnership.

The aim is to gradually provide complete medical information system solutions via Carestream's cloud platform.

Kevin Hobert, chief executive officer of Carestream, said part of the company's core strategy is to build regional health management, image and cloud-data platforms in China. The project will be kicked off this year.

The company has set up 12 cloud image centers worldwide. They are connected to more than 400 medical institutions. More than 63 million image and data entries are stored, accessed and used at those centers.

China is the world's third-largest medical device market after the US and Japan.

"Medical big data can be used to improve management efficiency and innovate business models, giving a new impetus for the industry, which has been relatively stable," said Hobert.

"To patients, establishing medical data service centers on the basis of clinical data and realizing precision medicine and life cycle health management is the ultimate purpose of healthcare based on big data."

Supported by more than 2,000 employees in China, Carestream now operates a research and development center in Shanghai and two plants in Shanghai and Xiamen. The Rochester, New York-based company said 46 percent of its global research staff is based in Shanghai.

Even though China's economic growth slowed in 2015, Carestream managed to gain sales worth $500 million last year, a double-digit year-on-year growth.

Hobert said medical services being provided in China's remote towns and villages, especially in the country's central and western regions, are comparatively less developed.

To improve the situation, the company has been working with the National Health and Family Planning Commission for three years offering training to doctors at the grassroots level. The goal is to improve local medical and health conditions and save costs for rural residents seeking a diagnosis.

The project covers 832 counties in 22 provinces and regions that are under the country's poverty alleviation program. The focus is on county-level health administrative and management personnel and medical officials.

Zhang Yuxin, a professor at Shenyang-based China Medical University, said China's medical device industry still lags behind the developed economies. Most businesses are small and scattered. Moreover, they lag behind in technology, quality and design. As far as branding is concerned, there is still a long way to go.

"Because of technical superiority, foreign medical device manufacturers still dominate the high-end market. Many foreign enterprises are mainly eyeing China's basic medical device market," said Zhang.