Doctors in China are expected to get a new aid in diagnosis and treatment of cancer patients — IBM's artificial intelligence platform, Watson.
Baheal Pharm, a Chinese company that focuses on e-health, signed a partnership agreement with IBM in Beijing on Tuesday to introduce Watson to medical institutions in China.
Through the deal, over the next three years, the company will become the sole agent on the Chinese mainland for Watson for Oncology, a cognitive computing platform designed to assist in the diagnosis and treatment of some commonly seen cancers, said Fu Gang, chairman of Baheal Pharm.
"We will also promote other products of IBM Watson Health in China, which will be customized to better meet the needs of Chinese," Fu said.
The company, which has connections with more than 120,000 hospitals in China, has selected some top comprehensive hospitals in China for application of Watson, he said.
In the long run, the artificial intelligence platform is expected to benefit hospitals and doctors at grassroots most, he added.
"Unlike doctors at big hospitals in big cities such as Beijing and Shanghai, doctors at grassroots, in general, have less experience in diagnosis and treatment of cancer," Fu said. "Watson for Oncology may be of great help to them with its vast data resources."
Xu Xiaolin, vice-president of the Chinese Hospital Association, said he hopes promotion of the new technology will be expanded from big hospitals to medical institutions at grassroots, to contribute to the more even distribution of medical resources.
Cancer is a leading cause of death in China, and its incidence has been increasing. In 2015, there were 4.3 million new cancer cases, and more than 2.8 million deaths attributed to the disease, according to the National Cancer Institute.