Tester Leads Committee’s First Roundtable on A.I. and its Potential Impact on Veterans’ Care and Benefits

Chairman discussed the current and future use of Artificial Intelligence at VA with Department officials and AI stakeholders

Senate Veterans’ Affairs Committee Chairman Jon Tester today hosted a landmark roundtable to discuss the current use and potential future application of Artificial Intelligence (A.I.) at the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) to better provide veterans their earned health care and benefits. Tester was joined by Committee members, VA officials, and an expert from the RAND Corporation.

“A.I. has the potential to make big changes to our world, and can create new opportunities for VA to better fulfill its mission to serve veterans,” said Tester. “These new systems could improve our medical and scientific knowledge for the men and women who served. However, as A.I. continues to grow, it is critically important that its implementation is ethical and protects veteran data and patient safety.”

The Senator continued, “Today, I want to hear about how VA can leverage the potential of this technology to expand treatment options for veterans, especially those in rural areas, and use it to process veterans’ claims in a more accurate and timely manner. Above all, I want to make clear that trust from veterans is critical for VA to fulfill its mission and we need to ensure veterans and staff are included in any A.I. roll-out. Staff need to be assured A.I. is going to assist them in their roles serving our nations veterans—not replace them.”

During the roundtable, Tester questioned VA leadership tasked with A.I. implementation on the Department’s A.I. Strategy and how it is currently putting A.I. in action to serve veterans, especially in health care settings, while protecting privacy. He also questioned VA on how A.I. could benefit the Department’s workforce, the largest employer in the federal government, and help minimize employee and provider burnout.

The discussion also focused on VA’s efforts to include veterans in its discussions to employ these new technologies.

A.I. relies on robust data sets to operate, and VA has the most comprehensive administrative, financial, and medical record data in the world. This provides VA an unique opportunity to improve its delivery of health care, advance its research, identify diseases and guide patient treatment plans, expand veterans’ access to benefits, assist in claims processing, and further medical and scientific knowledge for the betterment of all veterans.

In 2019, the Department established the National Artificial Intelligence Institute in 2019 to serve as a guiding body for A.I, and VA is currently engaged in more than 300 projects related to or directly using A.I.


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