China is doubling down on smart medicine

More and more healthcare stakeholders in China are contributing to the government's vision to popularize and standardize smart Chinese medicine.

In December, Hong Kong Baptist University (HKBU) and the China Resources Research Institute of Science and Technology, a subsidiary of consumer goods conglomerate China Resources Enterprise (CR Enterprise), entered into an R&D agreement to establish the CR-BU Joint Innovation Center . Smart Chinese medicine.

The center, which aims to promote Chinese medicine, will serve as a “hub for cutting-edge research, innovation and collaboration in Chinese medicine.” It is now focusing on implementing its first project, a chronic disease management system.

According to a press statement, the chronic disease management system will fully track a patient's medical journey and enable aftercare and long-term health management functions. It will also give doctors access to patients' extensive medical histories, which will further inform their treatment plans. Additionally, the system can help accelerate scientific discoveries by providing researchers with an “invaluable” collection of tracked data, including analysis of the effectiveness of treatments and responses to medical interventions.

In addition to chronic disease management, HKBU and CR Enterprise also want to research AI and big data in Chinese medicine.


The joint research center of HKBU and CR Enterprise contributes to the efforts in developing smart Chinese medicine, its standardization and internationalization. The Chinese government is focusing on smart hospital construction to meet the perceived increase in demand for healthcare services in the coming years. It has identified the three core principles, or 'trinity', of smart hospital development, including smart medicine.


From 2021 nearly 60 billion yuan ($9 billion) was invested in smart medicine in China. Ultimately, the Chinese government is targeting 7% annual growth in R&D spending, with a particular emphasis on AI, as part of its latest five-year plan (2021-2025). McKinsey research predicts approximately $5 billion in economic contribution of using AI in medical imaging to support clinical decisions and predict outcomes.

The Five-Year Plan also prioritizes strengthening the digital capabilities of health and medicine organizations at the grassroots level for disease prevention and treatment and promoting the integration of Chinese medicine with the Internet.

One of the ongoing digital public service projects under the plan is the construction of the Chinese Medicine Hospital Health Information Platform. The Chinese government is also currently building “unified, interconnected and shared” health information platforms.

There are also projects to improve the computerization of Chinese medicine at the grassroots, and to explore the use of AI in drug research and development, smart bed occupancy and diagnosis, among others.

Meanwhile, in the field of personalized medicine, SinoUnited Health, a medical services chain in Shanghai, has also developed a data-driven chronic disease management platform that allows physicians to create more targeted and individualized treatment plans for their patients. It includes wearable devices, a central monitoring platform and a multidisciplinary care team.


“(T)he establishment of the CR-BU Joint Innovation Center on Smart Chinese Medicine today marks an important step in our joint efforts to advance the development of Chinese medicine. Our first project, the Chronic Disease Management System, can be used by other countries are taking over areas of disease management and treatment in the future. Continuous technological innovation and progress can truly integrate the tradition of Chinese medicine into modern life, creating a greater impact on human health,” said Professor Alexander Wai, chairman of the HKBU. Vice Chancellor.

“We will jointly explore the new model and direction of smart Chinese medicine to combine the diversified industrial advantages of CR Group and the high-quality Chinese medicine resources of HKBU. The collaboration aims to achieve a 1+1>2 synergy and positions the Joint Innovation Center as a platform for smart Chinese medicine with international influence, thereby (a) making greater contributions to the promotion of smart Chinese medicine and the modernizing it,” said Wang Xiangming, Director General of the Department of Education and Technology under the Liaison Bureau of the Central People's Government in Hong Kong.