In a first, Alibaba （阿里巴巴), China’s internet giant, has started a smart hospital in Hangzhou city where the company has its headquarters.
It’s financial arm Alipay（支付宝)and its healthcare wing AliHealth（阿里健康）, have teamed up with Yuhang Hospital to apply facial recognition to the entire medical process.
Facial recognition is commonly used in bill settlements in China. But this is the first time that the technology is being used to streamline the medical process at a hospital.
After six months of painstaking testing and debugging, the arrangement was rolled out on October 15. A team from TMTPOST, a tech media outlet was there to experience the service firsthand.
The team found that all the steps, from patients’ registration to departmental diagnosis and from reading reports to the final bill settlement, was routed through the automated process.
First-time users have their faces scanned on the self-service registration machine which has a 3D camera customized by Alipay. They enter their mobile phone numbers to verify their identities, reserve the consulting room, then pay the registration fee by facial recognition.
After registration, the doctor asks if they had used facial recognition to register, if yes, the doctor would confirm their identities by facial recognition, then verify their mobile phone numbers, diagnose and prescribe. In the end, patients have their faces scanned to pay the fee.
Both, insured, as well as self-paying patients, can enjoy the service.
However, the team found that insured patients need to scan their faces twice to interact with the Human Resources and Social Security Bureau and connect to Alipay personal account, which is a cumbersome process. The personnel in charge of the information office at the hospital, however, claimed that they would work on simplifying the process.
The new arrangement would allow patients to seek medical treatment without the hospital card, citizen card, electronic social security card or electronic health card. It will be convenient especially for elderly people who usually don't know how to use a smartphone or find it difficult to remember the passwords.
While Alipay provides biometric technology capabilities, AliHealth is responsible for the transformation of the hospital's existing equipment and facilities. The project is carried out by Zhejiang Bianque Health Technology（浙江扁鹊）, which is mainly engaged in medical health’s big data-related business and has jointly invested in by AliHealth and Ant Financial（蚂蚁金服).
(Reported by Wanying Zhang, an intern at The Passage)