June 4, 2020 – Thunder Bay, Ont.
A Lakehead University professor’s research could help prevent burnout in more than a million health-care workers around the world as they assist patients who have become ill with COVID-19.
“Workforce shortage is the number one problem in health care globally,” said Dr. Salimur Choudhury, an Assistant Professor in Computer Science at Lakehead University whose graduate student Mahzabeen Emu was recently awarded a $15,000 Mitacs research internship for the next four months.
Dr. Choudhury’s research with the MeshAI.io platform proposes an automated staff scheduler in the health-care industry that ensures stress-free task delegation and smarter staff scheduling decisions in a very short time.
Mesh Scheduling Inc. is a Kingston-based Canadian corporation that is the leader of a novel category of socially intelligent staff scheduling.
By asking the right questions and extracting insights into productivity and safety patterns, Mesh AI schedules thousands of shifts in highly complex work settings in just minutes. By doing this, Mesh AI not only improves costs and access to timely health-care needs, but also eliminates errors and burnout that cost lives in both patients and health-care providers.
This Lakehead-Mesh AI collaboration will make this software possible at a scale currently not imaginable anywhere else.
Dr. Choudhury said Mesh Scheduling Inc. currently has thousands of users in Canada and the US and the company expects that number to grow to millions as they expand their reach.
He understands the challenges health-care workers are facing in part because his spouse is a frontline health-care worker.
“The shortage of health-care personnel is a prevalent problem, primarily due to the substantial workloads caused by the novel Coronavirus strain,” he said.
“Moreover, due to the overwhelming and extremely dynamic the situation in the health-care industry caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, staff scheduling becomes very crucial.”
The main challenges this project aims to address are preventing burnout schedules for staff, thereby improving performance, and smart scheduling to restrict unnecessary contact among staff handling COVID-19 patients to limit virus exposure to other staff and non-infected patients.
This research project will assist Mesh Scheduling Inc. in optimizing its MeshAI.io scheduling platform to manage the uncertainties and challenges in the health-care industry by utilizing artificial intelligence with smart human resource allocation.
“We at Mesh AI are excited to start this research collaboration with Prof. Choudhury and Mahzabeen Emu for a number of reasons,” said Dr. Shahram Yousefi, Co-founder, President, and CEO of Mesh Scheduling Inc.
“On the one hand, this will lead to a coordinated and more impactful response to the call by all levels of the Canadian government to support public health and faster economic recovery.
“On the other hand, as leader of the category, Mesh AI can tremendously benefit from the latest research work done by Dr. Choudhury and his team in recent years.
“We are doubly happy to have diversified our R&D collaborations with Lakehead University (a first for us to build on) as well as working with Mahzabeen as a true star female graduate student in STEM. This is the future of Canadian health care and tech diversity intersecting.”
Dr. Andrew Dean, Lakehead’s Vice-President, Research and Innovation, said this research could not come at a better time.
“This partnership is very exciting and the research proposed is extremely important and timely,” Dr. Dean said. “Lakehead University appreciates the support from Mitacs for this collaborative project.”
“Mitacs is proud to support Lakehead University’s research advancements in partnership with MeshAI. This innovation leveraging artificial intelligence will help our valuable front-line workers during the COVID-19 pandemic and into the future,” said John Hepburn, CEO and Scientific Director of Mitacs.
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Lakehead University is a fully comprehensive university with approximately 9,700 full-time equivalent students and over 2,000 faculty and staff at two campuses in Orillia and Thunder Bay, Ontario. Lakehead has 10 faculties, including Business Administration, Education, Engineering, Graduate Studies, Health & Behavioural Sciences, Law, Natural Resources Management, the Northern Ontario School of Medicine, Science & Environmental Studies, and Social Sciences & Humanities. In 2019, Maclean’s 2020 University Rankings, once again, included Lakehead University among Canada’s Top 10 primarily undergraduate universities, while Research Infosource named Lakehead 'Research University of the Year' in its category for the fifth consecutive year. Visit www.lakeheadu.ca.
Mitacs is a not-for-profit organization that fosters growth and innovation in Canada by solving business and not-for-profit challenges with research solutions from academic institutions. Mitacs is funded by the Government of Canada, the Government of Alberta, the Government of British Columbia, Research Manitoba, the Government of New Brunswick, the Government of Newfoundland and Labrador, the Government of Nova Scotia, the Government of Ontario, Innovation PEI, the Government of Quebec, and the Government of Saskatchewan. For Mitacs news, please visit: www.mitacs.ca/en/newsroom.