If you’ve read about a new technology, there’s a good chance VA is already using it.
We’re living in an era of communications miracles. Telehealth is a tool VA uses to consult remotely with rural patients. We’re even tele-consulting to prepare transitioning Veterans for employment outside the Armed Forces.
But telehealth isn’t just a high-tech phone call – we’re also diagnosing patients remotely.
For example, diabetes is a disease that makes it harder for the body to deliver blood to the extremities. It can lead to sores and painful ulcers in the feet. As these ulcers develop, they cause temperature variations in the foot. Today, VA can monitor these temperature variations by using a floor mat embedded with thermographic sensors that Veterans can use at home. VA doctors can detect these variations remotely with a telehealth connection.
Last year, VA spent $3.2 billion treating diabetic foot ulcers. Now we can improve patients’ lives by detecting them earlier and directing treatment.
VA has decades of experience treating patients with limited mobility and spinal injuries. In the first decade of the new century, VA unveiled the first powered ankle-foot prosthetic, ushering in a new era of increased mobility for Veterans and other disabled Americans.
And our robotic exoskeletons have brought mobility to the lives of thousands of Veterans.
Today, we’re taking our expertise on exoskeletons to the next level. We’ve launched a pilot program to equip these exoskeletons with components that stimulate the spinal cord.
And we’re seeing promising results. Instead of the exoskeleton moving the patient around, the patient can increasingly control the exoskeleton as their own muscles are reactivated.
With further research at VA, we’re hoping to turn the exoskeleton from a mobility device into something that trains injured people to walk again under their own power.
VA is even finding ways to use Artificial Intelligence to more efficiently care for Veterans.
We’ve developed an AI system that can forecast a life-threatening kidney disease in patients. AI is also helping us keep the books. One of our pharmacists in Chicago developed an AI-driven program to sort out the billing of medications that are dispensed to our Veterans.
It can make sure medications are billed to the right parties more efficiently than any human can. That means money saved, and more time spent with patients.
At VA, we’re making sure that every technological advance means better lives for patients.