New Research Investment Pilots Use of Artificial Intelligence To Improve Emergency Department Processes


Winnipeg, MB — Victoria Hospital Foundation and the Manitoba Medical Service Foundation have announced over $27,000 in funding to support new research examining the potential role of artificial intelligence in enhancing emergency department processes for improved patient care.

Victoria Hospital Foundation has partnered with the Manitoba Medical Service Foundation, each awarding $13,575 of research funding to Dr. Farzad Zaerpour, Associate Professor for the Department of Business and Administration at the University of Winnipeg, for his project Artificial Intelligence in Modernizing Emergency Department: From Strategic Planning to Optimizing Operational Performance.

The intention of the one-year project is to demonstrate the potential of an AI-based patient flow model in addressing the challenges of emergency department crowding. According to the National Ambulatory Care Reporting System (NACRS), there were almost 14 million unscheduled emergency department visits reported in Canada between April 2021 and March 2022 – up from over 11.7 million in 2020-2021.

“Emergency department crowding is a critical challenge in healthcare, leading to prolonged service delays, ambulance diversion, reduced access to medical care, higher patient mortality rates, and staff burnout,” said Zaerpour. “This project has the potential to impact several critical aspects of healthcare delivery such as reducing emergency department crowding, improving patient outcomes, more efficient use of resources, structured decision-making, and better capacity planning.”

The first year of this project will include a comprehensive literature review on AI-based patient flow optimization in emergency departments, data preprocessing and artificial intelligence and machine learning model development. It will also include an initial patient flow analysis, a small-scale pilot test of the developed AI models and decision support systems in an emergency department, and a report to serve as a basis for future project planning.

“We are grateful for the generosity of the late Edith and Robert Lytle in establishing The Edith & Robert Lytle Endowment with our Foundation which is helping to fund this research,” said Nicole Chammartin, Chief Executive Officer, Victoria Hospital Foundation. “We are proud to invest in this innovative project that will impact the quality and accessibility of care for people here in our community and across Canada.”

This funding partnership between Victoria Hospital Foundation and the Manitoba Medical Service Foundation marks the third time these organizations have made a joint research investment. They previously invested a combined $50,000 to fund two health-related research projects in 2013 and 2017.

“We are thrilled to partner with the Victoria Hospital Foundation in funding this innovative research that hopes to improve emergency care for Manitobans,” said Dr. Greg Hammond, Executive Director, Manitoba Medical Service Foundation. “We are proud to support Manitoba researchers like Dr. Farzad Zaerpour and the important work they do to improve the health and well-being of people throughout the province.”

The outcomes from the initial one-year phase of the project will be used to inform the development of a robust AI-based patient flow model and actionable recommendations over a subsequent five-year period.

The project is expected to begin April 1, 2024.