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Tainan university's AI-based system helps doctors detect COVID-19

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Chiang Jung-hsien. Photo courtesy of NCKU

Taipei, Jan. 13 (CNA) A pneumonia detection system developed by National Cheng Kung University (NCKU) that can be used for the early diagnosis of potential COVID-19 patients has been put up online and become widely used by medical professionals around the world, said NCKU on Thursday.

MedCheX, an e-alert system that is based on artificial intelligence (AI) for automatically detecting pneumonia from chest X-rays, was developed by the NCKU's Department of Computer Science and Information Engineering team headed by professor Chiang Jung-hsien (蔣榮先).

The e-alert system was created to automatically detect and alert doctors more quickly of high-risk patients with pneumonia and/or COVID-19, the NCKU said.

Ever since MedCheX was made available online, Chiang said users from across 61 countries have been using the system which is currently available via a dedicated website.

The team had even been approached by several multinational firms to acquire the technology and commercialize MedCheX, he said.

But instead, the school professor indicated that the team had decided to "donate" the system by allowing medical professionals around the world to access the service free of charge.

This system can be especially beneficial for countries that do not have enough medical resources or radiologists, the NCKU said, noting that even in remote areas where there is a shortage of skilled doctors, the AI-based system can still quickly detect and help prevent the spread of COVID-19.

The MedCheX can be used by hospitals or clinics anywhere as long as there is an internet connection to assist frontline doctors quickly in diagnosing patients who are infected, said the school.

The system was one of the winners of an online competition organized by the World Health Organization (WHO) in 2020 to seek solutions for tackling challenges related to the COVID-19 pandemic.

According to NCKU, MedCheX was selected as one of the 89 highlighted projects out of 1560 teams around the world in the WHO's "Build for COVID-19 Global Online Hackathon" competition.

In 2021, it was chosen by the International Research Centre in Artificial Intelligence under the auspices of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) as one of the top 100 projects solving problems related to the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals with the application of AI.

The Tainan-based school said it was the only Asian team to be chosen among the top 100 projects.

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