New Technology Geared Toward Veterans

The Department of Veteran Affairs is investing in new technology to improve its treatment and care of the nation’s vets

New Technology Geared Toward Veterans

The Department of Veteran Affairs is investing in new technology to improve its treatment and care of the nation’s vets. Interestingly, the department is focusing on artificial intelligence. AI is already being heralded as a potential game-changer for human existence. A smart computer can do things that would be impossible for a human being.

 

The VA is sometimes criticized for the way that it handles its veteran’s problems. Providing quality care to a diverse group of people is very complicated. That’s the problem that they’re hoping AI will begin to help them solve.

 

In 2017, there were more than 1.2 million men and women serving in the U.S. military. An additional 800,000 people were in the reserves. All of those people either are or will become veterans. The sheer size of the veteran population is enough to make its management an appropriate task for AI.

 

Combat forces are already using AI. But it’s taking a little longer for the health applications to become obvious. An AI can figure out patterns that a human brain would miss and perhaps stop an outbreak or identify people who are vulnerable to fatal diseases.

 

The VA also recently announced a partnership with Apple. Veterans will be able to quickly and easily access their medical data directly from their smartphones.

 

“Our goal is to empower people to better understand and improve their health, enabling them to view their medical information from multiple providers in one place easily and securely,” Apple’s Vice President of Technology, Kevin Lynch explained.

 

By making the health care process easier for veterans, Apple is also making it easier for the VA. A happy vet is more likely to comply with their medical treatment. At the Military Connection, vets are encouraged to connect with their community and stay in shape to keep their health.

 

“When patients have better access to their health information, they have more productive conversations with their physicians,” said Jeff Williams, Apple’s COO. “By bringing Health Records on iPhone to VA patients, we hope veterans will experience improved healthcare that will enhance their lives.”

 

Research shows that more than a third of hospitals plan to implement AI into their management. That number is only going to increase as the software becomes more sophisticated.

 

A past study that looked at the effect of AI on Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) therapy programs. The results are very promising. The patient completion rate was much higher than average.

 

The government has left the specifics unclear regarding the VA’s investment into AI.

 

Technology is also helping veterans in other, less direct way. Coding boot camps are a popular example. Many camps offer programs to veterans. Microsoft has been training servicemen since 2013.

 

“Military people are great in teams; they have leadership skills,” Sean Kelley, Microsoft’s program director for military affairs said.

 

 “These are talented individuals who are used to working in intense collaborative environments, so we feel that if you take all those intangible skills and add the fact that [veterans are] technical and learners that they become ideally suited.”

 

Disabled or injured veterans may one day benefit from the research that’s being poured into exoskeletons, bionic suits that are strapped to human bodies and allow for impossible fears. On the battlefield, these suits can be used to create a super soldier.

 

The suit can also be used to help someone who has trouble walking or can’t stand up. Both the military and private companies are looking into this solution.

 

“The incorporation of exoskeleton technology into the therapy program has enhanced our capabilities to provide rehabilitation care to our Active Duty and Veteran personnel,”  Doug Ota of Ekso Bionics said.

 

Smart homes are being tailored to suit disabled veterans. A homeowner who’s an amputee or isn’t mobile has special needs. All of the home’s processes (air conditioning, lights, etc) can be set up so they’re controlled on a single device.

 

Veterans are treated with respect and deference. However, the VA  has often common under fire for major blunders. Officials hope that will happen less often as new technology is incorporated. One of the biggest issues that people have complained about is the lack of access to medical treatment. They find it difficult to schedule timely appointments.

 

AI can help smooth the process. It can predict future need and route people to the best provider. An AI system can be trusted to always remember to remind patients before their appointment.

 

American veterans face challenges but their situation is constantly improving.

Updated Date: 26 March 2019, 19:34

John Thunberbold

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