Microsoft Launches AI for Health Initiative
Sun, April 18, 2021

Microsoft Launches AI for Health Initiative

Microsoft invested $40 million to start the AI for Health program where they will use AI to improve diagnosis, prevention, and treatment / Credits: Albertus Engbers via 123RF


Many tech giants are leveraging artificial intelligence to improve our healthcare systems. Recently, Microsoft announced that it invested $40 million to start AI for Health program, which aims to help researchers and key organizations improve the quality of life for people across the world. The initiative will run for five years where they will use AI to improve diagnosis, prevention, and treatment. It will also be used to gather global-scale health insights and to improve access to healthcare in areas where it's often costly or hard to find.

“AI for Health is a philanthropic initiative that complements our broader work in Microsoft Healthcare. We will support specific nonprofits and academic collaboration with Microsoft’s leading data scientists, access to best-in-class AI tools and cloud computing, and select cash grants,” Microsoft’s John Kahan said. 

According to TechCrunch, an American online publisher that specifically reports on business-related to tech, technology news, analysis of emerging trends in tech, and profiling of new tech businesses and products, Microsoft’s AI for Health program will focus on direct research in the medical AI field (think algorithms for automatically detecting a disease), global health studies (that is, better understanding of how such things could be of use) and improving access (actually putting the algorithms to work). 

The initiative also aims to identify and deploy technologies that are effective, a lot easier to use, and cheaper. Kahan cited highly effective AI-based screening systems for diabetic retinopathy as an example of this. Microsoft stated that medical research outfits looking into SIDS, leprosy, diabetic retinopathy, tuberculosis, maternal mortality, and cancer as the ones that will benefit from this program. 

This isn’t the first time Microsoft launched an effort to healthcare. According to Engadget, a multilingual technology blog network with daily coverage of gadgets and consumer electronics, the tech giant has existing projects that aim to boost efforts to fight leprosy, upgrade tools to limit preventable blindness, improve the understanding of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome, and widen access to cancer information.