There is no shortage of uses for technology in healthcare. From simple telemetry monitors to innovative algorithms that detect disease, the two fields are intersecting more with each day. Of course, the latter form of tech has more potential for growth as the artificial intelligence (AI) field continues to develop.
As part of a new five-year initiative, Microsoft is investing $40 million in AI-based healthcare applications. The funding will be used for everything from research to developing global insights that improve care for everyone.
Investing in New Approaches
The past few years have seen some massive advancements in AI both within the healthcare world and outside of it. Even the last month was impressive. For example, IBM just debuted an AI system that can predict the symptoms and progression of Huntington’s disease. Earlier in January, Google announced the success of its own AI that can identify breast cancer cases with more accuracy than human doctors.
Microsoft’s new AI for Health program will help fund more innovations like these. It will empower researchers and organizations alike to pioneer new breakthroughs in the field. The $40 million investment will be divided among resources like AI and cloud tools, Microsoft data scientists, and “select” cash grants.
Although it will also leave room for new projects, the plan also supports some that are already in the works. For example, existing studies are already focusing on understanding more about Sudden Infant Death Syndrome, limiting preventable blindness, and widening access to cancer research.
Microsoft is also seeking to expand its collaborations with St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital to find breakthroughs in areas like maternal mortality and childhood cancer. The funding will stretch further than usual in these areas by paving the way for new AI applications.
Shouldering the Load
Around the world, healthcare workers are stretched thin. There are simply not enough providers and researchers to meet the needs of an expanding global population. Nonetheless, the health of people and communities alike has steadily improved.
Unfortunately, certain areas of the world that have more resources, like America and Europe, experience more progress than others. Although using AI is exciting on those fronts, it is perhaps even more enticing for rural areas and third-world countries. One of AI for Health’s primary goals is promoting health equity.
With AI technology, doctors, nurses, and other members of the care team are able to operate much more efficiently. This not only frees them up to provide care to more patients, but it also improves the quality of those interventions.
Microsoft estimates that only three percent of the world’s AI professionals work in healthcare. It hopes that this initiative will drive more pros to the field while also enabling doctors in the meantime. Although $40 million isn’t nearly enough to solve all of the world’s healthcare problems, allocating it towards AI certainly maximizes its impact.
As the funding is dispersed, it will be interesting to see the developments that unfold as a result. Stay tuned to The Burn-In for the latest updates regarding AI and its uses in healthcare.