Can AI Fix the Worker Shortage for Veteran Healthcare?

Drazen Zigic /
Drazen Zigic /

Veterans have been struggling to get the healthcare services that they need. Many are told that they have to wait months before getting an appointment – and this can lead to many symptoms being ignored while others get worse.

There’s been a significant shortage of healthcare workers for a while, and within the Department of Veterans Affairs, it’s even worse. It’s leading to many of the workers they do have to be inundated with work – and many are suffering from burnout.

There’s a possible solution: Artificial intelligence.

Biden recently signed an executive order with quite a few regulations on AI technology. It would make it so that AI-powered tools are developed. It would also allow more industry professionals to be hired in order to develop the necessary tools.

The VA has also launched “AI Tech Sprint,” which is a competition that will challenge AI and automation experts to create tools that will make it easier for healthcare staff to streamline their many tasks.

The instructions state: “The primary objective of this AI Tech Sprint is to create an AI-enabled tool that can extract transcripts and key details from ambient recordings of patient encounters in primary care, mental health, and specialty care settings within the Department of Veterans Affairs and then generate documentation for the encounter. The system must leverage conversational and directed voice prompting engineered to generate real time recommendations, retrieve patient and health system information, and create high quality encounter notes.”

If the right tools come along, it could make a big difference – and it could ensure that the VA catches up to the 21st century. As it stands right now, many are still waiting on information to arrive by fax. When was the last time you actually had to fax something? Now, you can see the problem.