VA enters project to use artificial intelligence, precision medicine

A partnership between the Department of Veterans Affairs and an artificial intelligence vendor aims to get at the underlying reasons why some people are more susceptible to diseases, with the intent of better identifying effective treatments.

The VA is pursuing the use of artificial intelligence approaches to care for its patient population after signing a five-year partnership with Flow Health.


Specifically, the agreement calls for the VA and Flow Health to build a “medical knowledge graph” that will help inform decision making and train artificial intelligence applications to personalize care plans to better treat patients.

In addition to attempting to understand susceptibility to disease, the partners will also look to use that information to identify possible side effects. That could be significant in reducing care expenses, since prescribing treatment tends to use a trial-and-error approach, and if a treatment doesn’t work, then a patient’s condition may worsen, or some treatments may hasten complications that are expensive to treat and risk patient safety.

Also See: VA, SSA use eHealth Exchange to share veteran medical records

The collaboration will integrate large volumes of data and aims to discover relationships between genomes and phenotypes, with the intent of learning what every gene variant actually means, to identify disease risk, to make more precise diagnoses and to suggest individualized treatments.

“Our mission is to advance healthcare by applying the latest artificial intelligence techniques to improve the detection, diagnosis, treatment and management of diseases,” said Alex Meshkin, CEO of Flow Health. “Through our partnership with the VA, Flow Health is working to unleash the power of AI to benefit our nation’s veterans.”

Flow Health is building a large knowledge graph of medicine and genomics from more than 30 petabytes of longitudinal clinical data drawn from VA records on 22 million veterans spanning over 20 years. All patient information will be de-identified during analysis to protect privacy.

“Developing artificial intelligence which can automatically identify the best diagnostic and treatment pathways will assist clinicians in delivering precision medicine to every veteran," said Robert Rowley, MD, Chief Medical Officer at Flow Health. “To build artificial intelligence you need huge amounts of data to feed deep learning models. This is why this partnership between the VA and Flow Health is a watershed moment for deep learning in healthcare.”

For reprint and licensing requests for this article, click here.