Artificial Intelligence at the Department of Veterans Affairs

This special Fed Gov Today Podcast is sponsored by Leidos.

In this exclusive, two-part, podcast series, Francis Rose sat down with leaders from the VA and explores the transformative potential of AI in healthcare. Conversations revolve around trust, collaboration, understanding end-users, and addressing implementation challenges. The goal is to enhance patient care, reduce administrative burdens, and ensure transparency and trustworthiness in AI deployment within the VA healthcare system.

The conversations were recorded at the Department of Veterans Affairs National Artificial Intelligence Institute’s International Summit for AI in Health Care, September 6-8 in Washington. 



Part 1: Moving AI applications from testing to deployment; the healthcare system burnout fight gets an unlikely asset; three big goals for AI in the VHA

The VA is optimistic about moving AI solutions from prototype and testing to deployment. Part of that transition is engaging end users in that deployment. Evan Carey is Deputy Director for AI Networks at the National Artificial Intelligence Institute. At the VA AI Summit, he tells me moving from testing to implementation isn’t a new challenge.

One theme throughout the sessions at the VA AI Summit is the potential to address burnout among healthcare providers. You’ll hear more about that issue on today’s show, and Thursday’s podcast too. Ning Yu, Chief Natural Language Processing Research Scientist at Leidos, explains how AI can help with burnout and a number of other challenges health care providers and systems face.

Making health care provision more efficient, more equitable, and more accessible are three goals the VA has for using AI in its healthcare system. Dr. Andrew Borkowski is Founding Chief of the Artificial Intelligence Service at the James A. Haley Veterans' Hospital in Tampa, FL; and Facility Lead for the NAII. At the VA AI Summit, he tells me how AI can help the VA achieve those goals.


Part 2: Building the case for trustworthy AI; the digital twin that will help you get your job done; balancing risk and reward with generative AI

The VA says it’s working toward a concept of trustworthy AI throughout its health care system. At the VA AI Summit, Dr. Michael Kim, Chief of Staff of the NAII, tells me it’s important that both health providers and patients trust the AI applications those providers use.

VA leaders at the Summit, and through this interview series, have used the term “trustworthy AI” to describe what they’re seeking, and what they want their end users and patients to understand about the technology. VA is also exploring the digital twins concept that A-I will enable. Narasa Susarla, Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning Lead, and Chief Architect and Chief Engineer of the Health Group, at Leidos, explains the intersection between trustworthy AI and digital twins, and how digital twins will help you do your job better.

Experts in health care, and across the technology spectrum, say generative AI has huge potential. They also talk about the risks that it may bring. At the VA AI Summit, Dr. Shereef Elnahal, Undersecretary for Health at the VA, tells me he believes avoiding generative A-I solutions would be a huge mistake.


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