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Matt Hancock starts UK-China dialogue on healthcare innovation


By Valeria Fiore
19 September 2018

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Health and social care secretary Matt Hancock is in China to start talks on cooperation on healthcare technology between the two countries.

Hancock will meet China’s health minister Ma Xiaowei in Beijing to discuss how to improve people’s lives through the use of technology.

Speaking yesterday, as one of the co-chairs of the World Economic Forum (WEF) in Tianjin, northern China, Hancock outlined the shared interest around innovation in health technology across the globe.

He said: ‘I hope that we can have lots of discussions this week about how we shape the way that we use modern technology so the fourth industrial revolution works for the benefit of humanity rather than running out of control.

‘I think that the combination of the role of genomics and understanding humanity at a molecular level, artificial intelligence and big data give us more opportunities than we’ve had for a generation to improve healthcare.

‘For instance, this combination will help us fight cancer, in a way we haven’t been able to before and also help people keep themselves healthy in a way that hasn’t been possible, through the use of artificial intelligence.’

When asked how AI will improve and change citizens’ lives, Hancock said technology has the potential for improvement in healthcare, in areas ranging from research to GP practices.

He attended the WEF with a number of UK-based tech companies, including My GP and Ada Health, that enable doctors to answer remotely to patients’ queries.

Talking about the two companies’ plans to expand globally, Hancock said they offer at the potential to tackle health inequalities ‘because whilst they augment and support a general practice doctor where they exist, they also empower somebody who doesn’t have access to primary care but has access to the internet to be able to improve their own healthcare’.

Hancock’s visit comes just a few weeks after he presented his vision for a more tech-driven NHS at the NHS Expo in Manchester.

AI is at the top of the Chinese’s government’s agenda, and the country it hoping to ‘lead the world in new trends in the development of AI’, including its application in healthcare, as stated in the document A Next Generation Artificial Intelligence Development Plantranslated for US-based think tank New America.

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