At the ALL IN conference in Montreal, the federally funded innovation organization Scale AI announced a $21-million investment across nine separate Canadian artificial intelligence (AI) projects focused on optimizing healthcare logistics and resources.
In a Canadian healthcare system still reeling from the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic, such as an increasing number of patients and a decreased number of staff due to burnout, this investment is meant to fund hospital projects seeking to address issues from paramedic scheduling to hospital resource management.
These projects are supported by funding provided to Scale AI as part of the Pan-Canadian Artificial Intelligence Strategy. In its 2021 budget, the Government of Canada committed $125 million over five years towards efforts to drive the adoption of AI across Canada’s economy and society. Scale AI, as an investment and innovation hub, shares these goals and supports investments in companies that implement real-world applications of AI.
“The mandate of this pan-Canadian initiative is to promote collaboration between hospitals and AI service providers, to foster innovation and support the implementation of AI in hospitals across the country to improve their operations and the healthcare delivered to Canadians,” said Scale AI’s CEO, Julien Billot, in a statement to BetaKit.
One such project comes from a partnership of 11 hospitals and organizations, including The Ottawa Hospital and the Canadian Cancer Society. Receiving a total of $2.9 million to develop an AI solution for key challenges in oncology, the project looks to predict patient flow, plan capacity proactively, and help coordinate the multiple services a patient may require over their care period.
Another project comes from Urgences-santé, Quebec’s only public prehospital emergency service organization, among others partners that received a total of $2.3 million for a project to predict the demand for emergency services to avoid paramedic service gaps.
The remaining seven projects received anywhere from $1.7 million to $3 million for AI-based solutions in projects dealing with various applications such as digital triage prediction, in which an AI model predicts the likelihood that a patient can be discharged, to physician scheduling.
A common denominator among most of the projects is the need to manage scarce resources in a sector facing a chronic budgetary strain, high community needs, and a persistent labour shortage.
Scale AI itself pledged $1.5 million to eight of the nine projects, with the one exception receiving $1.9 million from Scale AI, while the remainder of each project’s total funding was covered by their respective industry partners.
“These technological advances will have tangible, measurable effects on hospital activities, notably by helping to improve the patient’s journey and experience by streamlining the logistics, determining daily resource management, or reducing waiting times,” Scale AI said in a statement.
Billot said funding was limited to provincially-funded, not-for-profit hospitals with at least 500 beds in Canada that must collaborate with appropriate AI service providers in order to submit a project to Scale AI.
Feature image courtesy of Scale AI