VA launches $1 million AI tech competition to reduce health care worker burnout

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The Department of Veterans Affairs launched an Artificial Intelligence Tech Sprint encouraging innovators across America to create AI-enabled tools to reduce burnout among health care workers. The winning solutions will help clinicians take notes during medical appointments and/or integrate patients’ medical records, with the winning teams receiving $1 million in total prizes.

Reducing burnout among health care workers is a top priority for VA, especially at a time when VA is delivering more care and more benefits to more Veterans than ever before. This effort is a part of President Biden’s new executive order on Safe, Secure, and Trustworthy Artificial Intelligence and VA’s efforts to use trustworthy AI solutions to improve health care and benefits for Veterans, their families, caregivers, and survivors.

VA’s health care professionals provide life-saving and life-changing care for Veterans every day. Veterans who are enrolled in VA health care are proven to have better health outcomes than non-enrolled Veterans, and VA hospitals have dramatically outperformed non-VA hospitals in overall quality ratings and patient satisfaction ratings. Additionally, many of VA’s health care workers risked their lives to deliver for Veterans during the pandemic.

“AI solutions can help us reduce the time that clinicians spend on non-clinical work, which will get our teams doing more of what they love most: caring for Veterans,” said Under Secretary for Health Shereef Elnahal, M.D. “This effort will reduce burnout among our clinicians and improve Veteran health care at the same time.”

This sprint is just one aspect of VA’s comprehensive efforts to reduce burnout among health care workers. Last year, VA launched the Reduce Employee Burnout and Optimize Organizational Thriving (REBOOT) initiative to address major factors contributing to burnout and to promote wellbeing among employees. Additionally, VA is hiring employees at record rates to ensure that health care workers have the support they need. These efforts have led to a 20% decrease in turnover rate among Veterans Health Administration employees from 2022 to 2023.

Proposals for the AI Tech Sprint should seek to address one or more of the two focus areas: speech-to-text solutions for use in medical appointments, and document processing to reduce the time needed to integrate non-VA medical records into patients’ VA record.

Innovators interested in applying for the AI Tech Sprint can do so on the AI Tech Sprint website.

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