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[2019/06/26] Professor Chen Develops a “Mobile Medicine Image Recognition System” to Help Solve the Problem of Patients Taking the Wrong Drugs

Chen’s team held a press conference, “The Home-loving Pharmacist,” on May 7th


Taiwan’s has become a senior society where the elderly take an average of 7.3 pills every day. However, as every pill looks quite similar, the problem of taking the wrong pill is very common one and can easily affect an individual's health or even threaten their life. Professor Chen, an Associate Professor of the School of Medicine, who is also a family medicine doctor at the Taipei Veterans General Hospital, has invented a mobile medicine image recognition system named “The AIGIA home-loving pharmacist.” Doctors only need to have a photograph of a medicine in order to determine exactly what drug is contained in the tablet.


Professor Chen has been involved in community care for many years and it has hurt him to see patients going back into the hospital because they have taken the wrong pill. Chen remarked that the Taiwanese health care system includes more than 18,000 drugs and that the pills containing these drugs not only can be similar in size and color, but even their names can be similar. Sometimes even doctors or pharmacists are unable to distinguish them based on their appearance. In addition, many patients accumulate pills from multiple hospitals and clinics and add these to what they have at home. This can leads to severe problems in relation to their use.


The elderly often do not know what pills they are taking, which inspired Professor Chen to develop the “AIGIA home-loving pharmacist” application


In order to solve the above problems associated with drug use in Taiwan, Professor Chen spent three years developing a mobile medicine image recognition system, “the AIGIA home-loving pharmacist” application. Along with the MedBox lens, the App makes it possible to capture a photograph of a medicine using a smart phone. Next, using a cloud computing system, it is possible to quickly determine the drug in the photograph by smart comparison. Other information, such as drug content, indications, usage, characteristics, and warnings are also provided by the App. Finally, because of the growing population of foreign home caregivers in Taiwan, the system has been equipped with multiple languages, including English, Indonesian, Vietnamese, and Malaysian.


In order to solve the problems associated with using the wrong drug, Professor Chen remarked that, from the beginning of the development of the App, they have insisted that the system needed to be simple, easy to use, and accessible. Therefore, they thought of using smart phone as the platform and MedBox to counter any problems related to flash and color bias. This means that an average mobile phone is now able to accurately capture the image of a given pill. The cloud database has already collected 400+ drugs into its database and more than 8000 images; the recognition rate has reached >95%. This invention has obtained a patent in Taiwan and, according to the test results at Taipei Veterans General Hospital, “the AIGIA home-loving pharmacist” will allows doctors and nurses to correctly identify 90% and more of all household medicines, and this will result in >95% correct drug use.


By taking photos using a smart phone, “the AIGIA home-loving pharmacist” along with MedBox is able to identify the drug content of a pill and link this to the indications, usage, characteristics, and warnings associated with the drug.