The Veterans Affairs Department (VA) is trying to solve the ongoing crisis of millions veterans committing suicide through its REACH Vet program. The program, which launched about a year ago, uses the VA’s records on the health histories of veterans and applies predictive analytics to identify patients who might be at risk of suicide.
The VA estimates that about 20 veterans kill themselves everyday and the REACH program is designed to help VA clinicians identify those people who might need additional attention and care.
In the year since the REACH program began, veterans in the program reportedly have been admitted to mental health inpatient units less often, showed up to more mental health and primary care appointments and visited the VA more frequently. The VA reports that the REACH VA program has interacted with more than 30,000 veterans, and identifies almost 7,000 patients a month.
Each VA facility now has a REACH Vet coordinator that helps identify potential patients and analyzing the machine intelligence. There are also full-time psychologists, social workers and clinicians who only support REACH Vet.
The predictive model for the program is under constant updating, as new data feeds the algorithm, the program is currently beginning a new collaboration with the Department of Energy super computer.
An executive order from the President earlier this year mandated the Homeland Security Department, DoD and VA submit a joint action plan to provide better mental health treatment and suicide prevention resources for transitioning members of the military, and the REACH program is part of that plan. The VA recently sent its final report on how it will implement the president’s mental health EO to the White House for review.