How artificial intelligence and innovation at U of T are changing Canadian healthcare

Across industries, artificial intelligence is disrupting established practices while enabling organizations to re-think how they approach complex challenges. And the healthcare industry is no exception.

AI already has the power to remove barriers for people with low vision and the potential to advance preventative medicine by creating tailored health recommendations and therapies.

Data scientists at TD's Layer 6 are supporting a University of Toronto computer science student working with associate professor Laura Rosella by developing advanced machine learning models to improve the health outcomes of people living with diabetes in Canada.

The first research goal is to further sub-type patients identified with this highly prevalent chronic disease. The research will demonstrate opportunities for machine learning to enable more personalized and effective treatment, while providing more efficient use of health resources. 

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"Healthcare is one of the next frontiers for artificial intelligence to make a meaningful and positive impact on the lives of Canadians. It's also an opportunity for us to continue to lead the world in advancing Canadian AI talent and capabilities," said Tomi Poutanen, Co-Founder, Layer 6 and TD's Chief AI Officer.

"The limitless potential for data to make personalized therapies, tailored approaches and early diagnosis accessible to all Canadians is what drives our team to push forward and continue to innovate."

Machine learning capabilities often involve technologies capable of analyzing complex sets of health data in an effort to potentially reduce medical errors, detect health deficiencies early, and predict potential health outcomes—enabling researchers and doctors to better understand the needs of patients. 

While companies often invest in machine learning to primarily better understand their own customers and provide advice and solutions that improve their lives, TD's commitment to creating more equitable health outcomes for Canadians means exploring applications for machine learning that extend beyond financial services.

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When the bank acquired Layer 6 last January, both pledged to dedicate time and talent to exploring ways artificial intelligence could be used for the greater good.

Earlier this week, TD revealed a new commitment to donate $2.5 million over five years to supporting the University of Toronto's Creative Disruption Lab (CDL) Health Stream, a seed-stage program that aims to bring science-based startups to massively scalable ventures.

"We know that the long-term success of our business depends upon the resilience and health of the people we serve. We're thrilled to support the CDL with this contribution, which will help accelerate advances in healthcare through fresh thinking and entrepreneurship," said Andrea Barrack, TD's Vice President of Global Corporate Citizenship. "At TD, we have a history and meaningful purpose of helping to enrich the lives of customers, colleagues and communities."

In 2015, CDL-Toronto launched its AI stream, leveraging a city now renowned as a global technology powerhouse for AI startups.

"The University of Toronto has a deep history of healthcare innovation, dating back to the discovery of insulin in 1921," said Sonia Sennik, Executive Director of the Creative Destruction Lab. "Thanks to TD, the Creative Destruction Lab's Health Stream can accelerate its programming and continue to build on this legacy to bring a whole new generation of medical breakthroughs to life."

The new commitments announced on October 11 are part of TD's ongoing support of innovative healthcare initiatives that can create more equitable outcomes for Canadians.