Chinese Internet giant Baidu has shut down its two-year-old mobile healthcare business unit in order to focus on artificial intelligence-enabled healthcare services. The move comes on the heels of the company's on-going strategic restructuring that will put a greater focus on higher-value-added technologies.
Established in January 2015, Baidu's mobile healthcare unit provided online hospital appointment booking services to patients, online consultation between doctors and patients, as well as online booking of pharmacy deliveries. These sort of services are also offered by companies such as GuaHao.com, Haoyisheng and Xingren Doctors.
According to Baidu's chairman Robin Li — and common sense, we would add — the healthcare industry has enormous potential, but services such as online hospital appointment booking are not very innovative. Instead, he wants to see Baidu improving health with the help of artificial intelligence.
While we don't know exactly what Baidu is up to, we do know that last year Li highlighted smart online consultation, genetic testing and analysis, precision medicine and new drug development as the most promising areas in the application of artificial intelligence to the healthcare sector… More to come, obviously…