VA launching big data management office

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The Department of Veteran Affairs will launch an office “later this year” focusing on the collection, protection and analysis of its abundance of veteran data.

VA’s Office of Information and Technology calls it the Data Management Organization, or DMO, and it will help “predict patient needs, deliver specific outcomes, and share information across VA to improve the Veteran experience,” according to VA’s midyear review, released Friday. 

“The proper collection, protection, and analysis of Veteran data leads to analytics-driven innovation that improves the Veteran experience,” the review says. 

“Our vision for the future: VA will reach out to a Veteran, letting her know — based on an ongoing population health analysis — that she may be at an elevated risk for a particular illness.”

The organization, VA states, should address several prior weaknesses: Data silos with redundant information; untapped sources of organizational knowledge; poor accountability, organization, and protection of data collection and storage; and lack of subject matter experts and tools to analyze data.

The DMO will play a key role in the interoperability of electronic health records, “working with the Department of Defense to tightly integrate VA-DOD data.”

“When a Veteran sees her clinician, that clinician will view the Veteran’s medical records from active service, post-service, and community providers, all on the same screen,” the review says. “Ultimately, Data Management establishes a single source of information.”

The VA gives an idea of how this might play out in modern times, when things like FitBits and other devices are constantly collecting information about users.

“The phone rings. On the other end of the line is a clinician who explains that VA’s ongoing population health analysis of Army Veterans who served in the same region, at the same time, identified the Veteran’s susceptibility to a minor respiratory condition.”

It continues: “The clinician suggests scheduling an appointment with a physician to assess her health and gives the Veteran the name of an inhaler that has proven to be very effective in treating other Veterans with this condition.”

Outside the specific management of veterans’ information, the DMO will also drive smarter decisions within different VA lines of business and operations. For instance, DMO “will enable analytics-driven innovation and reduce costly, aging infrastructure — improving service delivery and the Veteran experience,” the review says.

“It will also establish appropriate metrics to accurately measure and assess data, as well as work to ensure enterprise-wide data linkage,” another fact sheet says. “This means that our data will be accurate, high-quality, and easily accessible — giving us a strong foundation for innovation.”

“The new Data Management Organization is just one way we are modernizing OI&T through a Veteran-centric transformation guided by Secretary McDonald’s MyVA initiative,” VA CIO LaVerne Council told FedScoop in an emailed statement. “Although work remains, OI&T has accomplished an incredible amount in less than a year, from addressing ongoing audits, mitigating more than 21 million vulnerabilities, and re-focusing on over documenting. The Mid-Year Transformation Review tells the story of our accomplishments to date and shares our vision — and plans — for the future.”

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data analytics, Department of Veterans Affairs (VA), Departments, Tech
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