AI to be used in Kazakh healthcare

ASTANA – Kazakhstan is planning to launch a pilot programme incorporating artificial intelligence (AI) in oncology treatment by the end of this year. The technology will help doctors identify key information in a patient’s medical records and look for relevant articles and treatment options to eliminate unnecessary care.


“A memorandum of cooperation has been signed between the Ministry of Healthcare and IBM, which provides for Watson for Oncology, a pilot introduction of artificial intelligence in healthcare. Currently, a roadmap for the pilot project is being developed within this memorandum,” said Kazakh Minister of Healthcare Yelzhan Birtanov at a recent government meeting.

Watson for Oncology will help doctors identify a timely qualitative diagnosis, which will contribute to better treatment. The programme is able to study and analyse all data on cases described in thematic literature. In addition, the technology is able to provide background information based on analyses published in scientific journals.

Initial cooperation on the project started during Prime Minister Bakytzhan Sagintayev’s working trip to the United States last April, when he met with IBM management.

“In the first stage, we plan to upload anonymised data from the cancer registry. In the pilot mode, we will check how the programme will evaluate the actions of our doctors and the compliance of their methods of diagnosis and treatment with international protocols. Thanks to information technologies, doctors will have the opportunity to learn and adjust treatment,” said Birtanov in a July interview.

At present, Kazakhstan has 22 functioning online information systems, according to the Ministry of Healthcare. They are designed to collect statistical information and provide funding for the healthcare sector.

Introducing AI is part of the large-scale healthcare digitalisation project implemented under the programme of the Third Modernisation of Kazakhstan: Global Competitiveness. The procedure claims to contribute to increased productivity for healthcare workers and the population’s satisfaction with medical services.

The government is currently working on several projects. By the end of the year, the ministry plans to implement a pilot programme in the Unified Integration Platform, where each Kazakh citizen will have his or her own electronic health passport. Together with UNICEF, the government is also working to develop a Nurse and Care for Young Children mobile app, with introduction scheduled for December.

In 2018, a system of paperless healthcare will be launched in pilot mode in the Akmola, Karaganda, Kostanai and West Kazakhstan regions, as well as in a number of national level organisations, according to Birtanov. Starting Jan. 1, 2019, medical organisations will completely switch to a paperless format to manage medical records, including electronic outpatient cards, electronic medical records and electronic prescriptions.


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