(Bloomberg) -- The UK is turning to data science to figure out how to ease wintertime pressures on the National Health Service, which is struggling with staff shortages and massive backlogs. 

The National Institute for Health and Care Research is providing £800,000 ($988,000) to fund 16 data-driven projects launching this month. The projects are expected to produce results by the end of March, with the findings published later this year, according to a statement Sunday.  

The efforts include examining hospital data to determine how to speed up patient flow in emergency departments, as well as using machine learning to predict peaks of infection with the respiratory syncytial virus.

“By using existing data, research teams, and infrastructure these projects are able to respond rapidly to evolving pressures on the NHS,” said Cathie Sudlow, chief scientist at Health Data Research UK, which is delivering the projects. “It’s critical that we use data rapidly, securely and responsibly to support the NHS, its workers, and the patients who rely on it for their care.”

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