A world in which Alexa replaces doctors may still be far off into the future, but Amazon can actually help hospitals improve the efficiency of their healthcare systems. Thanks to the latest artificial intelligence, the tech giant is now working with a Harvard-affiliated hospital to simplify medical care. The major development signifies the move of big players like Amazon and Google into the American healthcare industry, currently valued at over $3.5 trillion.

Amazon’s Web Services Unit will sponsor a program at Harvard’s Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center (BIDMC). The generous grant is expected to provide as much as $2 million to fund research on machine learning. Read on to know more about the trending AI news.

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Amazon Offers AI and Machine Learning to Harvard-Affiliated Hospital

It comes as no surprise that the tech industry is hopeful that treatment and diagnoses in the future can be helped by powerful computing tools. Amazon.com Inc. is now working in collaboration with the Boston-based hospital Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center. However, at present, the projects the pair is working on are less about complex therapies but more about increasing the cost-effectiveness of daily operations such as patient schedules.

According to Dr. John Halamka, executive director of the Health Technology Exploration Center at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, “Every minute spent on cumbersome clerical tasks and management adds up to millions in lost productivity and directly impacts patient care.”

How AI Can Help Medical Care

Presently, the United States health industry is overrun with inefficient processes as the skyrocketing costs have placed a heavy strain on the budgets of governments and employers, as well as families. The Seattle-based Amazon’s grant will enable the Harvard Medical School teaching hospital to experiment with AI and machine learning.

In a statement released by Amazon, Taha Kass-Hout, the senior leader for health care and AI said, “They’re identifying the right problems where machine learning truly can help.”

About Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center (BIDMC)

The renowned medical centre has over 673 beds and is well-connected with the network of clinics and hospitals located in Boston. In 2016, it began purchasing Amazon’s cloud-based services. This was done in order to ensure the accessibility of the hospital’s vital data in the event that a disaster would wipe out its off-site backup servers.

The useful tools being offered by Amazon will help BIDMC with the booking of operating rooms in a more precise manner. It can also predict when patients will be more likely to miss their appointments with the hospital’s in-demand specialists. Additionally, the software will aid in tracking the location of necessary patient paperwork such as patient consent forms from a stack of scanned information before scheduled surgeries. It can also alert the hospital staff in case any documentation is incomplete or missing.

A New Application for Surgery?

Taking things a step further, engineers from Amazon and BIDMC conducted an analysis of anonymous data from surgeries in the hospital dating back to the 1980s. Through the development and testing of their new scheduling system over the last 2 years, the administration was able to free up space and increase operating room capacity by 30 percent. Thus, the hospital was able to devise a system that makes the booking of operating tables as easy as booking restaurants!

BIDMC is making use of tools such as Amazon SageMaker, Apache MXNet, Tensorflow and Amazon Comprehend Medical that are all hosted on AWS.

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