Have a look for yourself:
On the outside it looks like a photo booth.
But on the inside is a powerful array of AI-powered tools.
This is how the company behind the machines describes the system:
‘When someone makes an inquiry, the “AI doctor” is the first to respond. After the AI algorithm sorts the patient’s basic condition and symptoms, the system automatically transfers the patient to a corresponding real doctor, and the real doctor makes a diagnosis according to the patient’s symptoms and prescribe medication. The “AI doctor” plays the role of assistant to the real doctor, effectively improving efficiency in responding to inquiries.’
In China, people can spend up to three hours waiting for a doctor, and only eight minutes with the actual practitioner.
So the machines are a sort of filter.
Soon though, the plan is for the machines to dispense pharmaceuticals themselves.
Sick at work?
See the robot doctor.
But wait, are you faking it?
In China, the robot doctor may inform your boss.
Wouldn’t that be a dystopia?
More on this later though.
The important thing for now is that these tools promise to introduce much needed efficiency into the Chinese healthcare system.
Currently, the Chinese healthcare system is underfunded, over-stretched, and as a result, distrusted by citizens.
These machines could help the country spend less at a time when its economy is starting to feel the strain of the trade war.
You can actually trade the company that makes these booths too — Ping An Healthcare and Technology Company Ltd [01833.HK].
Politics behind AI in healthcare
My colleague, Ryan Dinse, wrote yesterday about the money flowing into AI healthcare solutions.
So today I want to talk a bit more about the wider political ramifications of this trend.
In the US, there is a massive debate going on in the Democratic Party about the future of healthcare.
Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders are wrangling over how big it will be and how much it will cost.
But the only candidate that is actually (in my eyes) talking enough about technology questions doesn’t stand a chance.
His name is Andrew Yang and he accepts bitcoin donations for his campaign.
Now, I’m not going to wade too far into politics here.
But what I will say is that we are at a generational moment.
That point on the chart of human progress where it goes all ‘hockey stick’.
And the thing about AI in healthcare is that if we don’t start doing it in the West, China will.
The Ping An one-minute clinics have been billed as an extension of the One Belt, One Road initiative.
This means that you could see these clinics popping up in European city centres in the next five to 10 years.
That is, if the West doesn’t start to innovate and innovate aggressively, it will fall behind.
We have a choice to make then.
Do we want a China-topia or a West-topia?
It’s a competition of utopias/dystopias.
Options for investing in AI healthcare are limited
Now, there are a couple US-based companies out there pushing the boundaries of what’s possible.
These include Arterys (medical imaging), Atomwise (drug discovery), and Lumiata (health analytics).
The problem is, these companies are not publicly traded.
So it’s hard for the retail investor to get a slice of the pie.
But there are now a small but growing number of AI in healthcare stocks on the ASX.
This is a promising sign.
Here’s hoping more come online soon.
If they don’t, we may wind up in a China-topia.
Junior Analyst, Money Morning
PS: Ryan and I have recently recommended a couple of AI stocks in our two services, with success. These are Exponential Stock Investor and Billion Dollar Breakout Trader. You can learn about these services here.