Wednesday, June 7, 2023

How the VA Can Use Technology Advances to Meet Veterans’ Healthcare Needs

The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) is tasked with serving the healthcare needs of some 9 million Veterans across the U.S. FedhealthIT CEO, Susan Sharer, recently spoke with Lisa Mauti, Associate Director at Guidehouse and Brian Jones, D.O., Partner at Guidehouse. Lisa and Brian offered keen insight into the technology advances necessary to serve this vital demographic by utilizing community and social data as well as clinical records.


It is an exciting time at VA with a concerted focus on accelerating innovation. The overarching goal is turning the immense amounts of data available inside the VA’s system into operational insights across all departments.  It is a complex challenge, but not an unrealistic endeavor.

The key is bringing in data science experts and thought leaders to partner with VA to help evolve how VA utilizes capabilities such as Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Machine Learning (ML). Through the lens of AI and ML, VA’s data can be filtered to empower stakeholders from providers in the exam room to leaders at the highest levels make critical clinical and business decisions. Through these types of innovations, we are putting a story together for each patient, in each market with a keen eye on the workflow of the end-user. We must remain cognizant that the right person has the right information at the right time regardless of where they sit in the organization.

Most Veterans receive care both inside and outside of VA. There is a lot of attention placed on data representing these care interactions in the medical record, but which may only represent a few 20–30-minute appointments per year. A Veteran’s interactions with the healthcare system are a small fraction of time compared with the 99.9% of their lives where they are interacting with their communities in which they work and live every day. Innovations in how we integrate data representing social determinants of health from where Veterans work and live with VA’s vast data set in a way that efficiently informs decision-making from the exam room to the enterprise VA level, has the ability to revolutionize how we fund and deliver care across the country.

An example of this approach, Mission Daybreak, addresses the troubling and complex problem of the suicide rate among Veterans. Approximately 17 Veteran suicides a day leave clinicians asking, “What have we missed?” Mission Daybreak invites a broad spectrum of organizations including health innovators, service members, clinicians, and advocates to collaborate on solutions aimed at curbing suicide.

Mission Daybreak is indicative of this shift to looking to open source and publicly available social determinants of health data for geographic and community conditions that can increase a Veteran’s risk for suicide and other health conditions. Adding geographically specific information about opioid use, food insecurity, employment opportunities and overall sentiment can offer clues about the possible mental state of a Veteran residing in that community. Through integration and AI, these social determinants become part of a patient’s profile and a factor in clinical decision-making.


Making connections in communities through partnerships with public sector and commercial organizations offers unique insights into geographic indicators. Everyone is interested in how VA is going to seamlessly integrate this non-traditional data on such a massive scale. One can liken this influx of data to a Driver Assist program in an automobile. Using AI, the car interprets both internal and external conditions and makes recommendations about things like changing lanes or following too closely. The same can be said for healthcare. We want to use all the existing data both inside the facility and outside its walls to not only inform clinical decisions but also assist end-users at all levels to best operationalize currently available, and future data.

Just as a car’s navigation can see what is ahead, so too can we see what is on the horizon for Veterans and patients alike. Innovation is pointed in the right direction with the goal of meeting patients as they live their lives in communities. We offer them the resilience to meet challenges whether they are transitioning out of the military or are seasoned Veterans. We do this by ensuring that there is no data wall, but rather an open flow of support and information to keep Veterans healthy and thriving.

We see that the key to Veteran vitality lies in partnerships among commercial, public, and federal organizations with the shared goal of informing pathways and improving lives.

About Brian Jones, D.O., Partner, Guidehouse

Dr. Brian Jones is partner with more than 18 years in the healthcare industry, including over 15 years of executive level Health Plan Operations experience encompassing both commercial and governmental organizations.

As a practicing physician, Dr. Jones has championed the integration of IT tools into large healthcare systems to create and sustain efficient clinical and business processes. He has held leadership positions within the US Defense Health Agency, The Office of the Army Surgeon General, and within the Military Health System. Before joining Guidehouse, Dr. Jones successfully led the deployment of clinical efficiency tools across Army Medicine resulting in an improved provider experience and more efficient business processes. In addition, Dr. Jones was a leader in clinical process re-engineering, IT system integration, and training across the Military Health System. Dr. Jones is board certified in Family Medicine and Clinical Informatics. He currently has an active clinical practice in the Military Health System, Department of Veterans Affairs and at Kaiser Permanente.

About Lisa Mauti, Associate Director, Guidehouse

Lisa Mauti, an associate director, is a transformational brand strategy and change management professional who has over sixteen years of experience in patient communities, strategic marketing and political communications. She is currently leading the 15-person Guidehouse Communications team on the Cerner Electronic Health Record Modernization contract with VA. She previously led the 12-person Guidehouse Communications team on VA Community Care. Lisa has experience delivering communication strategies for complex transformational health IT projects that are geographically diverse and include complicated audience structures. Lisa has her MA in Political Communication from American University and her BH from Penn State University. She is a Certified Change Management Professional (CCMP) and is currently working on her MS in Healthcare Management from American University.

About Guidehouse

Guidehouse is a leading global provider of consulting services to the public sector and commercial markets with more than 15,000 professionals providing broad capabilities in management, technology, and risk. The company’s Health segment integrates consulting and outsourcing expertise to help hospitals and health systems, government agencies, life sciences and retail companies, payers, and other organizations solve their most complex problems and deliver innovative services to their communities. With 12 KLAS #1 rankings, Guidehouse was ranked 2022’s second largest healthcare consulting firm by Modern Healthcare. Visit the Guidehouse Center for Health Insights for healthcare payment, operational, and consumer disruption insights and solutions.


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