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NCKU touts diagnostic system in use worldwide

A pneumonia detection system developed by National Cheng Kung University (NCKU) researchers that can be used for early diagnosis of COVID-19 has become widely used by medical professionals around the world, the university said recently.

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

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

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

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

However, the team decided to “donate” the system by allowing medical professionals around the world to access the service free of charge, Chiang said.

This system can be especially beneficial for countries that do not have enough medical resources or radiologists, the university said, adding that even in remote areas with a shortage of skilled doctors, the system can quickly detect and help prevent the spread of COVID-19.

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

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

MedCheX was among the 89 projects selected out of 1,560 teams around the world in the WHO’s “Build for COVID-19 Global Online Hackathon” competition, the university said.

Last year, it was chosen by UNESCO’s International Research Center in Artificial Intelligence as one of the top 100 projects solving problems related to the UN Sustainable Development Goals with the application of AI.

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