Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center in Boston is working with Amazon's cloud computing arm to study whether artificial intelligence can improve hospital efficiency, the technology giant Monday.
Beth Israel Deaconess awarded $2M Amazon AI research grant
Amazon Web Services is sponsoring a multiyear research program at Beth Israel, under which researchers at the hospital will study how machine learning—a type of AI—can support patient care and clinical workflows.
Beth Israel, a Harvard Medical School-affiliated teaching hospital that's part of the newly formed Beth Israel Lahey Health system, began migrating a "significant portion" of its data center to AWS in 2016. Since then, the hospital has been investigating how AI, machine learning and voice services available on Amazon's cloud can streamline operations, according to a hospital spokesperson.
The research projects funded by AWS' research grant—which the spokesperson said is valued at up to $2 million—tend to focus on easing the burden of administrative tasks, such as scheduling and paperwork.
One of the first projects funded by the grant involves using AWS' machine learning services to screen patient records for completed consent forms ahead of surgery, and subsequently notifying nurses if the paperwork is missing.
For another project, Beth Israel sought to reduce surgery delays resulting from incomplete history and physical forms. The hospital now uses Comprehend Medical, an AI service that AWS debuted in November, to extract key medical terms that help staff pinpoint these forms.
"Every minute spent on cumbersome clerical tasks and management adds up to millions in lost productivity and directly impacts patient care," Dr. John Halamka, chief information officer and executive director of the health technology exploration center at Beth Israel, said in a statement.
Future research projects will include predicting which patients will likely skip medical appointments, forecasting when the hospital's emergency department will experience patient surges, and detecting when modifications to Beth Israel's operating room schedule will improve efficiency.
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