Project Florence: How AI-powered online learning is training nurses to fight COVID-19

The adaptive education program is now free for hospitals and medical professionals around the world.

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The Mount Sinai Health System, together with the artificial intelligence-learning company Sana Labs and the New York Academy of Sciences (NYAS), has launched a new initiative for "upskilling nurses to fight COVID-19." 

Named Project Florence in honor of trailblazing nurse Florence Nightingale, the platform has been made freely available to hospitals around the world, and can be accessed from any internet-connected device. 

"Project Florence is designed to deliver personalized learning at scale and we look forward to making it available to every hospital in need of upskilling nurses for intensive care of critical COVID-19 patients," said Sana Labs CEO Joel Hellermark. 

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The online learning tool starts with an AI-driven assessment that changes based on the knowledge level of the user. Once Project Florence has determined what a nurse or other health care practitioner needs to learn it recommends a two-day curriculum that fills skill gaps to better prepare critical care nurses to address the needs of COVID-19 patients.

The curriculum was developed by Mount Sinai and includes the latest COVID-19 industry resources and policies, as well as information from the American Association of Critical Care Nurses. Topics covered in the course include mechanical ventilation, capnography, preparing for work in a critical care ward, and treating COPD, ARDS, pneumothorax, pulmonary embolisms, and pneumonia.

In a release, Mount Sinai said that projections show 4.8 million Americans may be hospitalized for COVID-19 in the coming months, with 40% of those expected to need intensive care. 

Project Florence is a new kind of tool

Project Florence is, according to President Emeritus of the NYAS Ellis Rubenstein, one of the first tools of its kind to be built to meet the response needs of such a large global event. 

Sana Labs says its approach allows individuals to improve retention by up to three times that of traditional learning by using AI to predict knowledge gaps during training, resurfacing information at optimal times to improve retention, and optimizing how remedial content is offered to improve mastery.

Using AI to customize individual learning isn't new—resurfacing info at appropriate times to improve retention is also one of the hallmarks of language learning platform Duolingo's AI model, which isn't surprising considering Sana Labs won every single category in Duolingo's 2018 Second Language Acquisition Modeling competition.

By turning its AI learning capabilities toward fighting the COVID-19 pandemic, Sana Labs is demonstrating the power of AI to put the right people with the right training in the right places at critical times. 

"Not only are we advancing the essential skills of our staff, but we are also meeting the needs of our community during a particularly critical time across New York City, the United States, and the rest of the world," said Diane Adams, Mount Sinai chief learning officer.

Hospitals and health care professionals interested in signing up for Project Florence can request access at the project's website.

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Image: Sana Labs