Even as a fascination with new medical technologies powered by artificial intelligence (AI) increasingly takes hold in China, the country’s regulatory framework to manage this growth is still slowly evolving. Some Chinese hospitals are using robots to perform surgeries. Medical providers employ virtual medical assistants and smart health monitoring to speed and improve patient care. Manufacturers of medical robotics and other artificial intelligence technologies have secured millions of dollars in state funding, as Chinese authorities seek to relieve the pressures on the country’s healthcare system of a rapidly urbanizing and aging population.
But operational risks and regulatory challenges are ahead for companies trying to tap into these AI opportunities in China. Government authorities have shown a proclivity to support domestic AI manufacturers at the expense of foreign competitors. And regulators are a long way from establishing both clinical trial guidelines and unified industry standards for classifying the risks of artificial intelligence applications. Without a robust regulatory system in place, even the quality of patient data on which most AI applications rely is suspect. These and other challenges of a nascent regulatory environment mitigate the still significant opportunities for medical AI applications in China.