VA launches collaborative healthcare innovation center in California

The new center will expand on the VA’s efforts to improve veteran care with AI and predictive analytics.

Jeff Rowe | Sep 20, 2019 11:52 am

With the goal of taking advantage of emerging technology to improve veteran care, the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) recently established the National Center for Collaborative Healthcare Innovation (NCCHI) within the Palo Alto Health Care System (VAPAHCS) in California. 

Established on July 25 in a partnership with the Veterans Health Administration Innovation Ecosystem (VHA IE), the new center will leverage predictive analytics, artificial intelligence, and clinical decision support improve the customer experience for veterans and their families.

“The NCCHI is an important part of our strategy to be leaders in health care innovation and quality” said VA Secretary Robert Wilkie in a recent statement. “The center is particularly exciting because it is uniquely designed as a catalyst to combine strengths from non-health care fields.”

The center’s initial priorities will include focusing on developing AI-enabled tools and clinical decision support efficiencies, and sharing solutions that can benefit many more patients. 

The move follows closely on the heels of the appointment of Gil Alterovitz as the VA’s first director of artificial intelligence.

“Given how health care is evolving, AI is really the only way to move forward in terms of reducing costs and providing better care,” Alterovitz noted at the time of his appointment.

The NCCHI will expand on the VA Palo Alto Health Care System’s efforts to improve care with AI and predictive analytics. To that end, in August 2019, the organization joined with DeepMind Health, a Google-backed company, to develop a machine learning tool that can predict kidney injury in patients up to 48 hours in advance.

“We are proud to partner with the Department of Veterans Affairs on this important challenge,” Mustafa Suleyman, co-founder of DeepMind, said when the partnership was announced.

“This project has great potential intelligently to detect and prevent deterioration before patients show serious signs of illness. Speed is vital when a patient is deteriorating: the sooner the right information reaches the right clinician, the sooner the patient can be given the right care.”

VA is also currently building an infrastructure to facilitate more effective communication, collaboration, and engagement to support further work in the organization.

Over the long term, says the VA, the process, procedures and operational tools developed at NCCHI will be a foundation to support similar efforts throughout the federal organization.