VA, Energy Department roll out big data program to reduce suicide risk

The initiative will leverage artificial intelligence, high-performance computing and data from the VA and other federal resources to develop better treatments and preventative care for veterans.
By Jessica Davis
01:51 PM
VA big data program

The Department of Veterans Affairs and the Department of Energy are teaming up to use big data from the VA and other federal resources to improve veterans healthcare, including suicide prevention, cancer and heart disease, VA announced Monday.

The partnership will also improve DOE’s supercomputing designs.

The VA-DOE Big Data Science Initiative will leverage the DOE’s National Laboratory System, one of the largest supercomputing resources, as well as the department’s expertise and big data, artificial intelligence and high-performance computing to find trends that support treatment and preventative developments, according to officials.

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VA has created safeguards to protect the data shared with the DOE and officials said it will also pull health data from the Department of Defense, Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services and the Center for Disease Control’s National Death Index.

“VA has developed unparalleled health data trend information from some 24 million Veterans who have used VA for health care over the past two decades,” VA Secretary David Shulkin, MD, said in a statement. “We’re partnering with DOE to use their high-performance computing capabilities to allow thousands of researchers access to this unprecedented data resource over time in a secure environment.”

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As part of the new initiative, VA established MVP-CHAMPION, a landmark genomics program. Officials said over 560,000 veteran volunteers provided DNA samples, completed surveys on health, lifestyle and military experiences and granted access to electronic health records for research purposes.

The data will bolster projects included in the new initiative, according to officials.

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One of the initial goals is to build algorithms capable of determining personalized risk scores for suicide. VA clinicians and researchers will be able to use the data to predict the patients with the highest risk and provide prevention tools. Researchers will work with the VA Office of Suicide Prevention to improve the algorithms already used by VA.

Twitter: @JessieFDavis
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