Interview with Wu Han-Chang:Deploying Precision Health: ASUS Life Corporation Targets the International Market

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Moving towards Precision Health is an important policy goal for Taiwan. Utilizing the deep power of cloud data, Wu Han-Chang, General Manager of ASUS Cloud/ASUS Life, has led a team to build a medical IoT platform. The platform enables large hospitals and government units such as the National Health Insurance Administration to put smart medical care into practice. The platform has also pursued collaborative projects with the EU, once again drawing international attention to the strong capacities of “Made in Taiwan”.

The ASUS Group has been systematically promoting precision medicine since 2014. ASUS Life is a partner of ASUS Cloud, the ASUS subsidiary responsible for cloud services. At the end of 2016, ASUS Life became an independent subsidiary responsible for the medical domain. Through the ASUS Cloud data platform, ASUS Life has developed products for medical big data solutions and the medical Internet of Things. In his exclusive interview with the MOST Center for Global Affairs and Science Engagement (GASE), General Manager Wu talked freely about how ASUS Life is introducing information and communication technology into the medical field and joining hands with collaborators to build Taiwan's precision health industry.

Stepping into precision medicine: Searching for ways to integrate technology and medical care

Former U.S. President Obama issued a State of the Union address in January 2015, in which he proposed the precision medicine initiative. Since then, the global biotechnology and technology industries have invested vigorously in this blue ocean market. In 2020, Taiwan's government proposed the Promotion Program for Six Core Strategic Industries in Taiwan Precision Health to upgrade precision medicine to precision health. The program’s scope includes four aspects of health care: diagnosis, smart treatment, care, and precision prevention. All these will give broader scope for applying digital technologies such as the Internet of Things and artificial intelligence.

General Manager Wu frankly admitted that venturing into smart medical care poses different challenges for both the telecommunications industry and the medical industry. These challenges include the fact that the telecommunications sector is facing a paradigm shift in the post-PC era. Telecommunications must continue to strengthen multidisciplinary knowledge and experience, and adapt to new profit models (from short-term to long-term) and the international ecosystem. The healthcare domain must confront the challenges of initiating digital transformation, integrating digital capacity, and innovating new service models in order to establish business models for this new era. Furthermore, the ICT industry and the medical industry must surpass “three great mountains”: the limitations of medical institutions being non-profit; the publicly-run single insurance system; and the reuse of public sector data.

In order to realize their vision, ASUS has taken advantage of trends and deployed smart healthcare based on three cores: data integration and utilization; technology capacity platformization; and international industrial chain positioning.

Working with industry, government, and research to multidisciplinary cooperation

Wu said,“Establishing a hospital is difficult, so why not work with the hospitals? Let front-line medical staff tell ASUS technicians where the pain points are. What their needs are.” To this end, ASUS has launched multidisciplinary collaborations, including collaborating with Show Chwan Memorial Hospital on a joint venture to establish ASUS Life. ASUS Life plays an integrative role, ranging from software and hardware development to cloud data analysis. The joint venture has created, among other things, a clinical voice system for lung adenocarcinoma. In addition, ASUS also participated in the National Taiwan University Hospital Emergency Medicine Project, which is a flagship project funded by Ministry of Science and Technology. Through the use of artificial intelligence technology, precision digitized ER examinations, rapid medical history analysis, timely triaging, early and safe ER discharge, prognosis and treatment recommendations for cardiac arrest, and other procedures, the ER treatment process is strengthened to create a new benchmark in smart emergency care.

ASUS has also formed a national AI team with Taiwan Mobile Co., Ltd. and Quanta Computer Inc. to assist the Ministry of Science and Technology with building the supercomputer Taiwania 2. The system's computing power ranks among the top 20 supercomputers in the world. ASUSTeK Computer Inc. is primarily responsible for developing software platforms such as AI tools for machine learning and cloud systems. General Manager Wu stressed that through this supercomputing platform, Taiwan will be able to realize the vision of precision health care. ASUS Life is also collaborating with the National Health Insurance Administration to create a personal health data bank, which would be the first in Taiwan.

Building a medical IoT platform to target the global market

Wu bluntly stated that, in the face of the post-epidemic era and an aging society, future medical trends toward “precision health” are going to require a high degree of technological intervention. With declining birthrates and shortages of medical human resources, medical expenditure allocations will gradually shift from diagnostics to disease prevention and diagnosis. This trend will rely on technological foundations such as artificial intelligence and 5G. Now, with the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic, people are avoiding going to the hospital for medical treatment. Beginning this year, hospital after hospital has successively negotiated and collaborated with ASUS Life to build remote smart medical systems. 

The core of precision health is the use of high-quality medical data. For this purpose, ASUS has constructed OmniCare, a medical IoT platform. The platform integrates multiple smart medical equipment and IoT data to help hospitals develop telecare, and build medical big data and precision medical services. Hospitals and health management centers such as Show Chwan Memorial Hospital and National Taiwan University have already incorporated this platform.

In 2018, ASUS Life participated in a major EU-based smart medical care project. The project is a 7-country, 11-team collaboration to establish diabetes and asthma health monitoring and risk assessment models for patients. In 2019, ASUS Life also participated in another large-scale EU smart medical project—ACTIVAGE, which targets digital health care for the elderly. ASUS Life was the only company in Taiwan invited to join. ASUS Life also actively collaborates with international pharmaceutical companies to jointly explore new diabetes care methods, and how medical big data can help in drug research and development. Thus, ASUS Life has become a partner to international pharmaceutical companies for digital transformation.

Wu Han-Chang hopes that ASUS will become an enabler in the overall AIoT ecosystem. Through multidisciplinary cooperation with local Taiwanese operators, ASUS will establish alliances to expand into the international domain and increase the scope of precision health business opportunities.

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