VA appoints 1st director of AI, plans to expand AI research: 4 notes

The Department of Veterans Affairs announced July 10 the appointment of Gil Alterovitz, PhD, as its first director of artificial intelligence, a position that will be based in the VA's Office of Research and Development.

Here are four things to know about the appointment:

1. Dr. Alterovitz is a professor at Harvard Medical School and serves on the faculty of the Computational Health Informatics Program at Boston Children's Hospital.

2. He helped write the White House's updated strategic plan for AI research and development released earlier this year, and received a Federal 100 award for his efforts in "getting government ready for AI."

3. Dr. Alterovitz's work at the VA will focus on using big data and AI to reduce costs and improve the quality of care for veterans. He has already launched a "sprint" to find partner organizations to apply AI technology to the VA's data.

4. The VA began implementing AI into its workflow years ago: The technology has so far been used to reduce appointment wait times, identify suicide risk from medical records and interpret cancer lab results to suggest the best treatments.

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