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ZOC internet hospital: serve the patients with ophthalmic diseases nationwide to help fight against COVID-19


Source: Department of Artificial Intelligence and Big Data, ZOC

Written by: Xiaoman Huang, Department of Artificial Intelligence and Big Data, ZOC

Proofread by: Jiawei Wang

Edited by: Xianjing Wei


At the present time, it is important work to continue the fight against COVID-19 in China. Zhongshan Ophthalmic Center (ZOC) has quickly set up the internet hospital in collaboration with other hospitals since the early outbreak of COVID-19 on February 1, 2020. AI technology has been fully utilized to reduce the consumption of medical resources, and to prevent cross-infection, meanwhile providing high-quality diagnosis and treatment services for patients in need.


This project was a joint effort supported by the Guangdong Medical Association Ophthalmology Society, Hubei Medical Association Ophthalmology Branch, and the Chinese Artificial Intelligence Society. ZOC internet hospital provided the patients across China (including Hubei province) with ophthalmologist consultation and AI Q&A services for free.





ZOC internet hospital provided 13,543 person time of services in February, 2020


During February 2020, the internet hospital hosted by ZOC has provided online services for 13,543 person-time totally, including 6,758 person-time of AI Q&A services and 6,785 person-time consultation from 112 ophthalmologists.


Ophthalmologists provided online consultation for those follow-up patients whose conditions are relatively stable but whose medications need to be maintained chronically, such as patients after corneal transplantation; patients with glaucoma, uveitis, or optic neuritis; and patients with eye discomfort who needed nonemergency consultation.


The internet AI Q&A platform is an intelligent interactive platform based mainly on the technique of natural language processing (NLP). A total of 6,785 patients' questions have been answered. This online services have been spoken highly for their timely appearance in this critical time. The patients only need to type disease names or keywords, then they can get instant answers about the diagnosis and treatment options, as well as guiding services for first-time patients, which can save time and avoid repetition in seeking help from doctors. In the severe situation of COVID-19 infection, it plays a role in reducing patient crowds, cutting off infection routes, and saving medical costs, all of which are a part of effective epidemic prevention and treatment.



National collaborative action of Ophthalmologists to protect the eye health


In order to allow more eye patients get timely access to the online ophthalmic services, 108 ophthalmologists from ZOC volunteered to support online diagnosis and treatment, which became a major force of online free consultation for the public welfare. Ophthalmologists from two other branch hospitals of ZOC, Nanchang Ophthalmic Hospital and Hainan Ophthalmic Hospital, also joined the team. In the meantime, ophthalmologists from seven hospitals in the epidemic frontline of Hubei province—Wuhan University affiliated Zhongnan Hospital, Renmin Hospital of Wuhan University, Wuhan University affiliated Ophthalmic Hospital, Yichang Central People’s Hospital, Wuhan Central Hospital, Hubei Ezhou Central Hospital, and Jingzhou Central Hospital, also joined as online volunteers together to build a secure base behind the line of the epidemic and provided help for eye disease patients during the epidemic.


As one of the top-tier ophthalmic center in China, ZOC would take on the responsibility for ophthalmic disease management during, and beyond the lockdown period caused by COVID-19 spread. We would appreciate the participation of ophthalmic hospitals or healthcare centers home and abroad, to build an international online platform in the future.