Covered in OR/MS Today, iABC Gains International Visibility

OR/MS Today, an international journal under INFORMS, disclosed in its No. 21 issue of 2018 the world speech tour topics, including Operations Research and Analytics and their noteworthy applications and innova-tions…

OR/MS Today, an international journal under INFORMS, disclosed in its No. 21 issue of 2018 the world speech tour topics, including Operations Research and Analytics and their noteworthy applications and innova-tions. iABC’s proposals of utilizing AI and blockchain to promote the fusion and upgrade of new healthcare, new retailing, and new finance was offi-cially covered in the journal.

A recent article from the New York Times cited Taiwan’s National Health Insurance, a single-payer system owned and operated by the govern-ment, as a great example worth noting for the government of America. In 2013, the average yearly medical and healthcare expenditure per person in Taiwan is US$1,166, making up 5.1% of the per capita GDP of the same year. The amount is way lower than that of America at US$9,255 of the same period. In addition, the administrative expenditure of National Health Insurance Administration, Ministry of Health and Welfare consists only of 1.07% of all health care expenditure while its information system is able to provide almost real-time information over health care expenses, utilization rate and public health emergency such as the outbreaks of the flu and the avian flu.

Nevertheless, Taiwan’s medical and healthcare is still faced with a main challenge – fast-growing aging society and accelerating cost for non-contagious diseases. From 1996 to 2013, the GDP of Taiwan has grown about 50% while the average healthcare expenditure per person has nearly doubled. To get to the bottom of the problem, the increase has mainly come from the population over 60 years of age.

In 2011, the elderly ( aged 65 and over ) consisted only 10% of the total population, while their healthcare expenditure made up 34% of all the ex-penditure. It is estimated that the aged population will reach 14%, turning Taiwan into an aged society in merely 20 years. The pace has greatly surpassed that of other developed countries. The aged population is pro-jected to rise up to 20% in 2025, making Taiwan a hyper-aged society.

Taiwan is becoming the fastest aging country in the world. As the popula-tion structures are changing, the overall medical and health care expendi-ture is also growing rapidly. Meanwhile, according to the 2030 Sustaina-ble Development Agenda by the United Nations, non-contagious diseases are considered one of the main challenges to sustainable development, whereas the gradually growing non-contagious diseases consist of 79.3% of the mortality rate in Taiwan. Prevention and control of non-contagious is rather challenging, partly because causes of these diseases are di-verse, and some of them are controversial such as tobacco addiction, al-cohol abuse, and unhealthy diet, all of which can increase the risks of dy-ing of non-contagious diseases, but not any of them can be easily eradi-cated.

Given these challenges, Taiwan has to develop innovative models to look after the aged population and enhance the health of the general public. In order achieve the goal, the intelligent IT system, community clinics, and the elderly care system can be put in place to provide a healthier life for the elderly and community residents. Related retailing and commercial services can also be integrated, along with financial services, to process medical and healthcare related expenses and insurance.

The authors of this article have recently received the support from the project of Global Research & Industry Alliance, GLORIA by MOST to found International AI and Blockchain Consortium, iABC, jointly initiated by Asia University and China Medical University, for the purpose of pro-moting health and medical care. iABC is headed by Dr. Grace Lin, vice president of Asia University, fellow and former board member and VP for the International Activities of INFORMS.

The aims of GLORIA are to prepare enterprises ready for industrial trans-formation and intelligent digital economy as well as to promote collabora-tion between universities and corporations, and to commercialize the techniques developed by academic researchers. At iABC, there are scholars and experts from industries and institutes of different fields all over the world, dedicating to putting rising technology into the real world of medical and health care. Especially Taichung-based Asia University and China Medical University, with their complete medical system of 14 subsidiary hospitals, are acting as research hub, which is human-centered, and dedicates to preventive medical and health care and relat-ed new retailing and fintech. The rising technologies being applied involve big data analysis, operations research, AI, blockchain, cloud computing, IoT and so on.

iABC’s key features:

  1. Universities, enterprises, research labs, and international institutes are put together to form a united research team that has substantial cross-field experience over business management, advanced technology, solu-tion integration, and transformation consulting which are helpful in bol-stering the innovation and R&D of new health, new retailing, and new fi-nancial service.
  2. The united system of Asia University and China Medical University is geared to engage the research centers within the schools in putting rising technology together with commercial service, to accomplish consistent buildup and inheritance over talent development. The research centers involved are Big Data Research Center, FinTech and Blockchain Re-search Center, and 3D Printing Research Institute.
  3. iABC has set up liaison centers and labs in Taipei, and Taichung for the demonstration of innovative technology, and the integrated new health, new retailing, and new financial solutions to connect with the industry, and small and mid-size enterprises (SMEs) in central and northern Taiwan so as to encourage them to develop innovation and partnership. The ecolog-ical model will customize an opportunity to cross fields and brands for SMEs.

Solutions: Integration of Health, Retailing, and FinTech

Technology progress has led to innovative business models, which in turn has made an impact on the healthcare, retailing, and finance industries. Holistic Healthcare, stressing the importance of predictive, prevention, personalized, and participatory (4P Medicine), will become the focal point of the development of healthcare management. The trend is demonstrat-ed in a survey by Frost & Sullivan, a consulting firm involved in market re-search and analysis. According to the survey, in 2007 70% of the ex-penditure was for treatment, as for the rest 30%, 15% was for diagnosis, 10% for monitoring, and 5% for prevention; while in 2012, the expenditure for treatment fell to 60%, the others rose to 19% for diagnosis, 12% for monitoring, and 9% for prevention.

The medical and healthcare expenditure for treatment is expected to drop significantly to 35%, while percentages are predicted to mount to 27% for diagnosis, 16% for monitoring, and 22% for prevention, which indicates that people are willing to pay more attention to their health, and institu-tions of medical and healthcare are re-allocating resources from treat-ment to prevention and healthcare. In order to achieve 4P Medicine, the applications of rising tech on monitoring and analysis will not be limited to conventional health indexes like blood pressure, heart rate, blood sugar, and other biometric indicators, but rather extend to lifestyle such as diet, exercise, health condition, sleep quality, body-mind balance, and external factors.

The products and services needed to attain 4P Medicine range from health food, dietary supplement, exercise equipment, monitoring devices to medicine, medical equipment, and most importantly, medical person-nel, including doctors, nurses, orderlies, and in-home nursing or home care service. Hence, to provide timely service, it is necessary to build up a whole new retailing business model of customer to business (C2B) and customer to manufacture (C2M), in addition to suitable products and ser-vices. FinTech will play an important role in perfect financial services. For example, cryptocurrency and innovative incentive mechanism can be used to encourage healthy life, diet, exercise, self-help and mutual-aid behavior, and other non-conventional medical care behavior as well as to reward clients for their contributions to related business and services.

In order to realize the benefit of cross-industry innovation, iABC team has designed a Cyber-Physical System, CPS, to connect hospitals, nursing care institutions, and new commercial and financial service for the devel-opment of human-centered medical and health care as shown in the fol-lowing diagram:

system is based on the private data bank of blockchain, which collects, store, and analyze internal and external data information of hospital, in-cluding environmental sensor, medical record, equipment reading, wear-able device, on-line purchase history, social network, data from app. and other information to let clients decide whether or not to share the data; it also integrates medical history, insurance claim, food, and product rec-ord into a uniform, reliable, and unalterable ledger of blockchain, allowing AI to detect fraud more effectively, and identify health management risk factors. Moreover, through the insurance and re-insurance contracts of blockchain, the information and the payment process between insurance company and clients is able to be simplified and automated, resulting in speedy claims, higher client satisfaction, and lower cost. Eventually, med-ical and health care institutions can be compensated more quickly, and clients do not need to pay until receiving their claims.

New Health, New Retailing, and New Finance

In order to achieve human-centered, 4P Medicine-based networked med-ical and health care, iABC has designed a smart API-based CPS with Big Data Center, FinTech and Blockchain Center of Asia University, Fu-sion360, Asia University Hospital, China Medical University Hospital. The iABC team has also looked aggressively for partners to establish an in-dustrial and academic medical and health care ecological circle. The fol-lowings are two on-going cases iABC and its partners are working on.

Case 1, Cross-border O2O (On-line to Off-line) Medical and Health Care Business Model

iABC is working with a traditional company whose mission is focused on people’s greater health, expecting to set up a cross-border business model, by means of introducing rising AI and blockchain techniques, to transform it into a global ecological system service corporation.

The team of iABC has designed a new retail business model to achieve omni-channel business. By means of innovatively integrating business model, such as traditional B2C (including B2B2C, B2B, and M2C), and highly secure, privacy protected C2B and C2M, to provide high-quality products and timely services intended to individual health. OR, business analysis, and AI are the key to the operation of an ecological system. Par-ticipants, including supplier, manufacturer, retailer, distributor, platform provider, and customer are most benefited from many-to-many smart pairing and awarding/incentive mechanism. The blockchain technique as-sures privacy and security, and, more importantly, effectively put C2B and C2M business models into practice. Among all this, there are still plenty of interesting and challenging designing issues existing in the award-ing/incentive cryptocurrency mechanism.

Case 2, Blockchain Volunteer’s Time Bank

For the labor intensive long-term and elderly care industry, the major dif-ficulty stems from limited capital and shortage of professionals. Based on the technical cooperation of iABC and Fusion360, the blockchain tech-nique has been applied on the publication of an award-based time cryp-tocurrency. For instance, volunteers can earn, certified by the service institution, time cryptocurrency, and at the same time, deposit it into a time bank according to the smart contract of various terms of their choice under the protection of blockchain.

The cryptocurrency can then be a tool linking other services. For exam-ple, by way of providing services, volunteers can exchange the cryptocur-rency for health care or cleaning service for their family and friends, or use it to pay for coffee of equal value through linking retailing service. Ad-ditionally, time cryptocurrency can be transferred to another person through time bank, or saved in the time bank based on the terms of the smart contract. The time bank is not only just a mutually beneficial mech-anism, but also an altruistic social welfare system through the creation of sharing economy and a mutual-aid environment. Similar to the aforemen-tioned omni ecological economy, smart pairing and awarding mechanism assure the best service and systematic functions for different services and individuals that is critical to the overall effectiveness of the system.

Conclusion

While medical and health care innovation is significant to global welfare, new retailing and new finance have to develop hand in hand with new health so as to accomplish the transformation of the 4P Medicine-based medical and health care. As a result of OR, analytics, and AI, the intelli-gence, blockchain-protected security and privacy, and smart contract have opened up a wonderful opportunity for the innovation of business models. iABC would like to collaborate with the academy and industry around the world under the framework of an open ecological circle sys-tem to create a better world by taking good us of rising technology. The team of iABC would be delighted to cooperate with OR and management science professionals to make a contribution in the medical arena for a start. iABC is capable of helping academic researchers and leading man-ufacturers in Taiwan set up joint research projects on IoT, mobile device, medical and health care, retailing, finance, and fintech, and so on; the iABC team would make every effort to keep Taiwan’s research on AI, blockchain, medical and health care, and health updated with global cor-porations. For more information please contact Prof. Grace Lin.

Author

  • Grace Lin emailVice president, Director of the Big Data Research Center, and Blockchain Research Center of Asia University, Taiwan; Chair Professor of Asia Uni-versity and China Medical University, Taiwan;
    VP for 5 years with the Advanced Research Institute (ARI) at the Institute for Information Industry (III); worked at IBM for 16 years, over 6 of those as the Global Sense-and-Respond Value-Net leader, and CTO & Director for Innovation and Emerging Solutions at IBM Global Business Services; and a Research Staff Member, and IBM Distinguished Engineer
  • Ko-yang WangFounder and chairman of Fusion360, dedicating to the R&D of innovative API platform for financial inclusion and related services; president of Tai-wan FinTech Association, former vice CEO of the Institute for Information Industry, leader and partner of Business Process Management at IBM/li>
  • Ya-Hui ChanAssociate manager, Fusion360, associate professor at Asia university from 2016~2017, researcher and team leader of the Advanced Research Institute and the Institute of Technology and Applications at the Institute for Information Industry
  • Han Chao LeeVice general manager, Fusion360, on secondment to iABC as CSO, fo-cusing on blockchain R&D, and former vice president of the Institute of Technology and Applications, and the Institute of Cloud System Software Research at the Institute for Information Industry
  • Zhong-xiang LiuAssociate manage, Fusion360, on secondment to iABC as chief of inno-vation, COI, chief sectary of Taiwan FinTech Association, and ㄐformer department manager at the Institute for Information Industry.