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The tech giant shared details of the latest endeavor in its $165 million AI for Good program: It plans to invest $40 million over the next five years in support of research and public health efforts as part of its new AI for Health initiative, according to MedCity News.
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Through AI for Health, Microsoft plans to give nonprofit organizations and researchers access to its AI tools, cloud computing resources, and the opportunity to collaborate with the tech titan’s data scientists — with a particular aim of accelerating medical research, improving global health outcomes, reducing health inequality, and boosting access to care.
The investment fits neatly into Microsoft’s larger healthcare play, in which it’s leaning on its AI brawn to ignite innovation and improve health outcomes across the healthcare ecosystem.
Microsoft’s AI for Health initiative has the broad goal of advancing research and expanding access to AI solutions to make a positive impact on health outcomes — and one high-value use case of the firm’s AI tools Microsoft Chief Data Analytics Officer John Kahan highlighted is how they can be leveraged for early disease detection and intervention: For example, in May 2019, the tech titan teamed up with the Seattle Children’s Research Institute to study and prevent Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS) by analyzing CDC data to identify correlations that reflected a statistical increase in SIDS.
And in mid-2018, early detection system firm Intelligent Retinal Imaging Systems leveraged Microsoft’s Azure computer vision software to create a platform that can identify diabetic retinopathy before patients lose their vision.
And while AI holds huge promise for improving clinical outcomes, a major barrier to implementation is that US docs aren’t prepared to use the tech — meaning there’s a massive opportunity for big tech firms to bridge the technological gaps holding health firms back.
The potential for AI to improve health outcomes is well-documented: For example, Nashville-based health system HCA Healthcare recently leveraged an AI algorithm to detect sepsis and prevent more than 5,500 deaths. And the tech can save the health system big, considering AI-generated healthcare savings could eclipse $150 billion by 2025.
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Yet, despite AI’s promise and US physicians’ positive attitude toward introducing the tech into their practice, docs in the US feel underprepared to use AI: The results of a recent Stanford Medicine survey of 523 practicing US physicians indicated only 5% of these doctors feel prepared to leverage AI. This opens an opportunity for Microsoft and the likes to lend their AI know-how to help healthcare organizations overcome the barriers preventing them from effectively implementing AI strategies.
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