July 16th, 2024

Feds invest $15M in health-care AI development through Vancouver tech cluster program

By The Canadian Press on July 10, 2024.

Canada is investing about $15 million toward the development of artificial intelligence in health care that the federal innovation minister calls a "game changer" for improving the industry's ability to serve patients. Innovation, Science and Industry Minister Francois-Philippe Champagne speaks on Parliament Hill in Ottawa, on Tuesday, June 4, 2024. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Spencer Colby

VANCOUVER – Canada is investing about $15 million toward the development of artificial intelligence in health care that Federal Innovation Minister Fran├žois-Philippe Champagne calls a “game changer” for improving the industry’s ability to serve patients.

Champagne says the funding will be invested through the ministry’s Vancouver-based technology cluster program in five medical tech companies, creating technology that automates certain tasks to enhance care.

The AI initiative, known as the Health Compass II project, will use the federal investment of $15.3 million as leverage for gaining additional investments from partners to support the total budget of $44 million.

The technologies being developed through the program include a “patient-facing virtual agent” that is estimated to improve patient engagement by 30 per cent, as well as automation that streamlines administrative tasks and clinical documentation.

The companies developing the technology say the implementation of AI automation can save doctors hours of time each day for seeing more patients or for taking breaks to maintain their wellness and service delivery.

Champagne says the latest investment builds on initial funding from 2022 of $3.1 million for AI integration in electronic medical records as part of the original Health Compass program.

“And this is technology that we can use today,” Champagne said during the investment announcement in Vancouver.

“I think that’s what people want to see, more efficient delivery, making sure that their physician would have access to cutting-edge information, making sure they can look at data, and making sure that we can help more people … this is a game changer in how we’re going to be delivering (health).”

This report by The Canadian Press was first published July 10, 2024.

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