A Chinese startup has built a digital medical image library on the cloud, bringing ease and cost savings to patients, doctors and hospitals countrywide
By Wang Xinlei
In a country as huge as China, where the population now numbers over 1.6 billion, thousands of medical images are produced every day. Most of them will need to be stored for 15 to 30 years, often in the form of physical film, requiring tremendous space and sophisticated processing techniques.
Even for digitized medical images, encryption to protect the confidentiality of every image is similarly complicated. All in all, the cost incurred is a considerable sum for hospitals to bear.
Meanwhile, patients rushing around with their X-rays in their hands, as they go from hospital to hospital, is still a common sight in China. The rural dwellers have it worst, since they lack access to advanced medical resources where they live and resort to traveling long distances to the big cities for better treatment.
Now a Hangzhou-based medtech startup is working to change that. It created Eimageglobal, a digital platform for storing medical image records and safely sharing them via the cloud between patients and doctors, as well as researchers.
Founded in 2010, the company, Hangzhou Lianzhong Medical Science Co., Ltd, started off producing affordable film for medical imaging. While visiting hospitals across China for his business, the company’s founder and CEO, Chai Xueting, discovered a growing need for new ways to store the massive amount of medical images. But it was after his own daughter needed a scan that he began dedicating himself to solving the problem.
The “living room”
Launched in 2013, the Eimageglobal digital platform (web and app) lets users share their medical images remotely with doctors and experts of their choice, and gain accurate diagnoses based on these images. The data are stored in the cloud and so always accessible, regardless of the user’s physical location.
“Our product is like a big living room, and every medical area like a bedroom,” Chai once said to explain Eimageglobal.
“The medical data are normally stored in the bedrooms. But when there is a need for sharing and exchanging of information, this will take place in the big living room, which is the cloud-based medical data platform we are building.”
Doctors using Eimageglobal can also work, and compare notes and diagnosis with one another, without having to be tied to a specific time or place. Research institutes around the globe can now conduct more effective research, benefiting from the large shared pool of medical data and case histories on the platform.
By 2015, Eimageglobal had established a network of over 100 hospitals in Guizhou and Liaoning provinces, extending the best medical resources to counties and villages.
The company also founded its artificial intelligence and big data center in Chapel Hill, North Carolina, USA, collaborating with world-class medical experts to favor larger group of individuals and organizations. A strategic partnership with Guizhou Gui’an Electronic Information Industry Investment Group was also inked to co-invest in a RMB 2.35 billion medical imaging big data project in Guizhou province.
Today, the Eimageglobal medical network has reached more than 400 hospitals in 30 cities across China. Over 20,000 medical images have been accessed on the platform.
Chai was named “Young Tech Giant” by the Zhejiang Entrepreneur Committee in 2017.
According to qianzhan.com, a market research institute under Tsinghua University, the total consumption of online medical services in China reached RMB 7,66 billion by the end of 2017. The number is predicted to increase to RMB 14.4 billion by the end of 2018, the institute says.
Investors are expecting Eimageglobal to ride on this rising demand. Among them is CrestValue, which also backed Chunyuyisheng, the Chinese healthcare technology star.
Even more notably, the Chinese government has also piled into Eimageglobal. Earlier this year, the startup raised Series D funding of nearly RMB 100 million from SDIC Venture Capital, a fund management company under the State Development & Investment Corp. In 2016, Eimageglobal also qualified as a “Municipal Level Research Center” under the Hangzhou municipal government.
With such strong official endorsement, the future is certainly looking bright for Eimageglobal.