Updated 11:29 AM EDT, Tue, Jun 16, 2020

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Baidu Stops Mobile Healthcare Unit to Focus On AI Services

Baidu's mobile healthcare unit was established in January 2015.

(Photo : Getty Images) Baidu's mobile healthcare unit was established in January 2015.

Baidu Inc. has announced the shutdown of its two-year-old mobile healthcare business unit in exchange of artificial intelligence (AI) team.

The decision is in line with latest effort of the company to restructure itself as an AI-first company, refocusing more on intelligence-enabled healthcare research and innovation. To clarify, he content production team of the mobile healthcare business unit will be merged into the group’s AI business and search business that will be effective immediately. 

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“Axing the department doesn’t mean Baidu will stop exploring the field of medical care. Baidu is aiming to participate in more upstream areas, like gene detection and new drugs R&D,” said Li Yanhong, the CEO of Baidu, said during a Q&A session at the China Entrepreneurs Forum.

The Chinese search engine artificial intelligence teams will direct its efforts to develop applications that could be used in the medical field. Areas included are drug development and testing, gene sequencing and patient diagnosis.

There will be two programs to the AI team – “Thumb Doctor” and “Intelligent Little e”. Thumb Doctor is an online platform, where real experts answer people’s questions about medical symptoms. On the other hand, Intelligent Little e is a chatbot project that aids in providing instant diagnoses. 

According to Li, artificial intelligence will play an important role in analyzing the result of gene sequencing to help identifying rare and common diseases in advance. It also expected that AI will replicate the efficiency of new drugs and lower the cost and period of R&D as well.

Baidu's mobile healthcare unit was established in January 2015. Its key business is to offer online hospital appointment booking services to patients, online consultation between doctors and patients, and online booking of pharmacy deliveries. These services are also akin to other mobile healthcare apps like, Haoyisheng and Xingren Doctors.

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