Two things you would never expect to be in a sentence together, the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) and Artificial Intelligence (AI). Over the past year, the VA has made progress in trailblazing their AI department with the establishment of an AI director and launch of the National Artificial Intelligence Institute (NAII).
Unbeknownst to some, artificial intelligence is key to many healthcare initiatives the VA is using to better serve Veterans. In an interview with Forbes, Dr. Gil Alterovitz states prior to his role as AI director, “…AI had tremendous potential…and there was a need to help build AI R&D capacity at the VA,” (Walch 4). It can be said that the first initiative towards AI R&D was the establishment of the NAII.
Accurately and directly from the website, the “NAII designs and collaborates on large-scale AI R&D initiatives, national AI policy, and partnerships across agencies, industries, and academia…the NAII is dedicated to advancing AI research and development for real-world impact and outcomes to ensure Veteran health and well-being,”(NAII).
Prior to the creation of the NAII, VA researchers have been using the technology to tackle projects. One of the first tasks the NAII took on was to survey the existing use of AI in the VA. Since the creation of the NAII in 2019, the VA has piloted a new AI tool to assist in prediction and recommendation of remedy for the prognosis of a patient.
Currently, the tool is being tested for COVID-19 prognosis accuracy at various VA sites by clinicians and researchers for feedback before being used. Alterovitz plans for the tool to become a simplified link available to appear on any VA site dashboard.
When asked what AI technologies, Alterovitz is looking most forward to in the coming years. He states, “Privacy-preserving AI and use of quantum computing for encryption is thus very promising and relevant…other promising areas are: Deep Learning, Explainable AI, Trustworth AI, and Multiscale AI Analysis,”(Walch 25).
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Walch, K., 2020. How The Department Of Veterans Affairs Uses AI To Help Vets. [online] Forbes. Available at: <https://www.forbes.com/sites/cognitiveworld/2020/11/07/how-the-department-of-veterans-affairs-uses-ai-to-help-vets/?sh=421ab15233db> [Accessed 10 November 2020].
“National Artificial Intelligence Institute (NAII)”. Research.Va.Gov, 2020, https://www.research.va.gov/naii/.
“VA Aims To Expand Artificial-Intelligence Research, Appoints Inaugural AI Director”. Research.Va.Gov, 2020, https://www.research.va.gov/currents/0719-VA-aims-to-expand-artificial-intelligence-research.cfm. Accessed 10 Nov 2020.
Boyd, Aaron. “VA Piloting AI To Predict Mortality Rates Of COVID-19 Patients”. Nextgov.Com, 2020, https://www.nextgov.com/emerging-tech/2020/10/va-piloting-ai-predict-mortality-rates-covid-19-patients/169512/. Accessed 10 November 2020.
Affairs, Office. “VA.Gov | Veterans Affairs”. Va.Gov, 2020, https://www.va.gov/opa/pressrel/pressrelease.cfm?id=5369. Accessed 10 November 2020.
Mirkin, Mitch. “VA Aims To Expand Artificial-Intelligence Research, Appoints Inaugural AI Director”. Research.Va.Gov, 2020, https://www.research.va.gov/currents/0719-VA-aims-to-expand-artificial-intelligence-research.cfm. Accessed 10 Nov 2020.