Hong Kong’s health care industry uses AI to fight rising superbugs
A new AI-powered initiative is being launched by the Hong Kong Hospital Authority to combat the rise of superbugs such as VRE and Candida auris.
In response to the concerning increase in superbug infections, the Hong Kong Hospital Authority has made history by announcing the launch of a trial program powered by artificial intelligence (AI). A surge in instances of Candida auris and vancomycin-resistant enterococci (VRE) in the first three quarters of 2023 has prompted this endeavor.
This initiative represents a significant change in the healthcare policy of the area and is set to start in January at the Prince of Wales Hospital in Sha Tin and Princess Margaret Hospital in Kwai Chung. Artificial intelligence (AI) will be used to analyze clinical data in order to determine whether antibiotics are necessary for therapy. One factor contributing to the increase of drug-resistant organisms is the widespread overprescribing of antibiotics, which this AI application seeks to address.
The trial program will start with one antibiotic kind and go on to include 17 public hospital emergency departments in March. By the end of the year, it will include eight different medicines.
A worrisome increase in patients having VRE and Candida auris has been observed by chief infection control officer Dr. Raymond Lai Wai-man. One reason for this increase is because multidrug-resistant organisms (MDROs) have received less attention in recent years due to healthcare resources being directed on fighting the COVID-19 pandemic. Reasons making the situation worse include the extensive use of broad-spectrum antibiotics for COVID-19 patients and the shrinkage of isolation wards for patients infected with MDROs.
As a whole, the prevalence of superbugs has decreased since the pandemic, but there has been a concerning upsurge in cases of VRE and Candida auris. With a rate of 0.22% in 2021 and 1.2% in 2023, antibiotic resistance among VRE has increased dramatically. Similarly, there has been a dramatic increase in the number of reported cases of Candida auris, with many of those infected going on to develop invasive infections that are very dangerous and even fatal.