November 9, 2020, Shanghai – Microsoft in China and Novo Nordisk, a leading healthcare company specializing in diabetes care globally, jointly announced the collaboration to develop a Chinese-speaking, AI chatbot for diabetic patients at the 3rd China International Import Expo.
Combining Novo Nordisk’s expertise and experience in diabetes care, and Microsoft’s Azure cloud platform and AI services, the two companies will collaborate to deliver an AI chatbot with a smart, natural-language interface to help more Chinese diabetic patients improve their knowledge of the disease for better self-management.
Christine Zhou, Senior Vice President and President of Novo Nordisk Region China, said, “Across our hundred-year legacy of caring for and tackling diabetes, Novo Nordisk has witnessed how diabetes has become one of the world’s biggest health challenges. We believe that innovations in medicine should be accompanied by a patient-centric philosophy that extends to empowering patients to manage their disease. We hope to do just that by providing patients with a more in-depth understanding of the disease’s risks and related knowledge, and improving their quality of life with our new Chinese-speaking chatbot.”
Diabetes is the fourth most fatal disease in the world. According to the International Diabetes Federation (IDF), by the end of 2019, there were approximately 463 million diabetes patients between the ages of 20 and 79 worldwide, yet nearly half of those affected had not undergone a proper medical diagnosis. By the time these patients are diagnosed with diabetes, many will have already experienced complications such as eye, kidney and heart damage.
China has the highest number of diabetics globally with 129 million patients. Of which, less than 16% can control their disease well due to the lack of timely diagnoses, insufficient attention, medication, and understanding about these key matters. The new chatbot thus aims to provide answers to patients’ everyday questions and allow them to be more aware and prepared to cope with the disease and live a better quality life.
Leveraging the Dialog Engine, a chatbot training and management platform developed by Microsoft Software Technology Center Asia (STCA) for local industries and customers, and a large database developed by Novo Nordisk that covers most of the questions frequently asked by diabetic patients, the technology will enable patients to communicate with the chatbot in Chinese via both voice and text. The visual dashboard and future intelligent operation technology, that tap on natural language processing (NLP) and deep Neural Networks, enable the chatbot to have rapid iteration and upgrade as it learns from its interactions.
Alain Crozier, Microsoft Corporate Vice President, Chairman and CEO of Greater China Region, said, “All industries, including healthcare, are accelerating their pace of digital transformation by using digital technologies to respond to, and recover from, this pandemic. Often, they do it in ways that will make them stronger, more creative and more resilient. Microsoft is excited to partner with industry leaders such as Novo Nordisk to help with the prevention and treatment of diabetes using Microsoft’s AI and cloud services. By driving the use of advanced technologies across industries, Microsoft hopes to help businesses and individuals embrace innovation and enhance resilience in the face of the challenges – and opportunities – that lie ahead.”
The chatbot will launch in early 2021 on Novo Nordisk’s digital patient support platforms. Both Novo Nordisk and Microsoft have made a commitment to a “healthcare + AI” model, and are setting a new benchmark in AI-powered chronic disease management, driving critical advancements in healthcare.