Veterans Affairs Launches New Suicide Prediction Tool

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Magic 8 Ball VA Suicide Prediction

The Department of Veterans Affairs just announced the launch of a new suicide prevention data analysis tool to help detect and treat veterans at risk of suicide.

In a press release, VA announced release of its newest suicide initiative called Recovery Engagement and Coordination for Health – Veterans Enhanced Treatment (REACH VET).

What VA is talking about is the use of predictive behavioral analytics from a pilot program the agency started last October. The aim is to provide pre-emptive care.

The program uses software to sift through veteran health data to find veterans who are statistically at risk of suicide. The software will then ping the veteran’s doctor or mental health provider to have them call the veteran to check in.

Of course, we have all seen movies like Minority Report where the premise of the movie involves use of predictive tools (telepathic humans in that movie) to predict crime.

Here, VA intends to use the technology to detect suicide risk.

Is it a little spooky? Yes.

Could it be used for evil? Certainly.

Will it help some veterans? Possibly, so long as VA doctors make the call and use the software appropriately.

I am curious about what company provided the predictive software.

What if VA plans to use a Magic 8 Ball made by IBM and sold to taxpayers for $1.4 billion on a renewable contract at the option of the contractor for 5 years? The doctor needs to shake it three times horizontally, and then three times vertically, to get the answer for each veteran patient.

All kidding aside, my hunch is the system will be run by IBM Watson, but I will find out more at a later date with a FOIA request. Do you have any ideas?

REACH VET Press Release Excerpt

According to the press release:

Suicide prevention is one of the Department of Veterans Affairs’ (VA) highest priorities. As part of VA’s commitment to put resources, services and all technology available to reduce Veteran suicide, VA has launched an innovative program called Recovery Engagement and Coordination for Health – Veterans Enhanced Treatment (REACH VET).

Recent research suggests that 20 Veterans die by suicide each day, putting Veterans at even greater risk than the general public. Using a new predictive model, REACH VET analyzes existing data from Veterans’ health records to identify those at a statistically elevated risk for suicide, hospitalization, illness or other adverse outcomes. This allows VA to provide pre-emptive care and support for Veterans, in some cases before a Veteran even has suicidal thoughts.

 “One Veteran suicide is one too many,” said Secretary of Veterans Affairs David J. Shulkin. “This cutting-edge program is saving lives by identifying at-risk Veterans and connecting them with the specialized care and support they need.”

Once a Veteran is identified, his or her VA mental health or primary care provider reaches out to check on the Veteran’s well-being, review their condition(s) and treatment plans to determine if enhanced care is needed. The program began as a pilot in October and is now fully implemented across VA.

“REACH VET is a game changer in our effort to reduce Veteran suicide,” said Dr. Caitlin Thompson, National Director of VA’s Office for Suicide Prevention. “Early intervention can lead to better recovery outcomes, lessen the likelihood of challenges becoming crises and reduce the stress that Veterans and their loved ones face.”

Source: https://www.va.gov/opa/pressrel/pressrelease.cfm?id=2878

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Don Karg
Don Karg
04/13/2017 Dear Benjamin Krause, After a year(s) of thinking —this is what Watson came up with? Wikipedia Watson is a question answering computer system capable of answering questions posed in natural language,[2] developed in IBM’s DeepQA project by a research team led by principal investigator David Ferrucci.[3] Watson was named after IBM’s first CEO, industrialist Thomas J. Watson.[4][5] The computer system was specifically developed to answer questions on the quiz show Jeopardy![6] In 2011, Watson competed on Jeopardy! against former winners Brad Rutter and Ken Jennings.[4][7] Watson received the first place prize of $1 million.[8] Watson had access to 200… Read more »
CorpsmanUp!
CorpsmanUp!

Your FOIA should include wether inactive enrolled veterans data is included in this software program because all veterans have not consented to 3rd parties , receipt of their information or yet alone VA to continually use their information to experiment with new software to implement a tool that is the new form harassing veterans for no reason based on a falsely created metric.
They need to create a software program that can measure employee risk factors for corruption and are high risk for killing veterans.
The old saying is ” fair exchange has never been a robbery”.
Signed,
Your friendly neighborhood Corpsman

namnibor
namnibor
“[The program uses software to sift through veteran health data to find veterans who are statistically at risk of suicide. The software will then ping the veteran’s doctor or mental health provider to have them call the veteran to check in.]” Already, the future fail and scheming and abusing of this predictive program is in the two sentences quoted above. We all know how little VA Dr.’s tend to do, and I cannot imagine them actually calling we vets…no, they will even bastardize that by “pinging the Veteran” by going about it in a lazy and harassing way: I predict… Read more »
91Veteran
91Veteran

I like the PDA app. Sorta like seeing if they are aliens while wearing special goggles.

Gretchen
This is 100% correct. My boss was the Chief of Urology for one of the VAs. My brother was a Vietnam vet and we discussed Agent Orange and bladder neoplasia. He basically blew me off and said that Agent Orange stuff is all bogus…and he was the smart, kind hearted doc who got into medicine through the Airforce. How about some of those other souless docs? I can see ever injured ego will generate a ping. And what does “enhanced” mean? Does it have anything to do with electricity, if you catch my drift. Very worried about my PTSD patient… Read more »
JUAREZ
JUAREZ
What happened to having a system that, regardless of the behavior of the PTSD patient, only the best bedside manner is tolerated? What happened to having a system that makes the Veteran and his or her family feel encouraged to bring his or her troubles to a trusted “HOME”? What happened to having a system that clearly demonstrates a genuine commitment to the healing of the Veteran? What happened is Brentwood School, UCLA Baseball stadium, Salvation Army residential housing, a Director at WLA that favors non-veteran special interests more than the individual PTSD/TBI Veteran patient and the concerns of the… Read more »
Mr. James Franklin Moore, Sr.
I had some wise a$$ remarks’ for this article but, I see that you guys’ have this situation well in hand… I would like know what happen too that same program that they had down on a check list form years ago…? Did they take the time of read those old paper forms we filled out that said that we wanted to kick some VHA-a&&, before committing such an act on ones’ self and why in the blue blazes they need an App., when in truth they need a truck load of hearing aids for most of the staff members..,… Read more »
Disgruntled Veteran
Disgruntled Veteran

Good Article and information, Ben.

Wonder how the length of time since you have been seen at the VA will factor into your “Magic 8 Ball Suicide Risk Assessment?”

I usually find that I feel suicidal 45% of the time immediately after I have a BAD VA appointment. The remaining percentage I feel homicidal. There is 0% error in my polling data.

What happened to the Subscribe, and Follow Comments selectors? Software glitch?

namnibor
namnibor

@Disgruntled Veteran- “[What happened to the Subscribe, and Follow Comments selectors? Software glitch?]”

We are to now utilize the VA’s magic 8 ball to predetermine resulting comments posted.

Do NOT confuse that with the VA’s OTHER “magic 8 ball” which comes each day after dividing up the gains from the pharmacy all spread out on mirrors in VA conference room.

Disgruntled Veteran
Disgruntled Veteran

@Nam – – – Remember the old “Pepsi or Coke” test?

Over the years, I have seen a few at Honolulu who DEFINITELY prefer Coke – – er, snuff. Haven’t seen them recently.

We’ll see how much the VA (VHA side) is changing in June. They have me scheduled for a whole day of “playtime” from dawn to dusk.

Not looking forward to it.

ANutterVet
ANutterVet

I’m not concerned about the VA Physician knowing how to operate the software or detecting the severity of a suicidal incident, I’m more worried about how well the VA Physician can speak and understand English. All joking set aside. Anyone else?

91Veteran
91Veteran

Yes, ANutterVet, how many triggers will get pulled simply because English is a second language.

I’m curious how the VA tested this. Did they do a live test over a period of time by entering false data in a real veterans record to make sure the pings worked?

I wonder what they found in their testing for veterans like me who has been assigned 5 different PCPs in 3 years.

Do those PCPs get pings on the beach long after they retired?

namnibor
namnibor
@91Veteran- I can see just that. A given VA Psych Hack from somewhere other than USA hears the Veteran use the words of the new toy acquired for kids, a “Slippery Slide”, and the VA Hack interprets that as “Suicide”. “Susie Cries”- Suicide “Sewer Side”- Suicide “Sushi or Fries”- Suicide alarm goes off in VA Canteen Cafeteria My point is, has this program been fully tested to take into consideration phonetics and even Ebonics? Who did the VA actually test this on? Ring Knockers with penchant for catchy words? Piggy VSO’s. What if a given Vet just loves Death Metal… Read more »
Angela
Angela
Yep, I hear you Namnibor and you as well 91Veteran. Really though yes this is a tool but how effective is it going to be is the question? The VA is constantly trying to come up with new ideas using technology to assist veterans. I do not necessarily agree. They are avoiding the real issues and avoiding fixing the real core problem within the VA. The bottom line is it is the system in regards to accountability, humanness, ethicality etc. and with providers who really qualified to handle the veteran’s potential planned or unplanned suicide with initiating appropriate quality care… Read more »
Crazy elf
Crazy elf

Check this shit out from “Military.com/Daily News”! In my opinion, just more B/S from VA.
Titled:

“VA Now Posts Wait Times, Private-Care Comparisons Online!”

12 April 2017
“Military.com” | by Richard Sisk

For some reason, I feel they’re just pulling a fast one on veterans!

91Veteran
91Veteran

I think this is the same as the USA Today article I posted yesterday Crazy Elf.

More garbage in, garbage out.

Rich B
Rich B

Yesterday I mentioned that I would let you all know how my c/p exam when for my sleep apnea secondary to my asthma/copd went. The examiner indicated it was more likely than not… so looks like I won this battle.

Dennis
Dennis
Hey, I have a Jim Dandy idea…… Why don’t we use the Million Vet genetic database to determine which vets are might become suicidal on a statistical basis? Then as part of the proactive computer model for suicide we could inform every suicide prevention coordinator to enter a flag of “High Risk” into the CPRS database. I had one of those flags once, put there by VA. It’s called a Cat 2 flag. This great idea I have stems from direct personal observation of the potential in VA hands of their modus operandi regards to suicidal patients. I am just… Read more »
Gretchen

Why are any of you complying with that genetic database? Are you crazy? Don’t do it!!!

namnibor
namnibor
I did not ‘consent’ but just when has the VA followed the laws, specifically, privacy laws when $$$ can be had? The VA would bottle Veteran Farts if they could gain some value from we non-human test subjects. This article’s talk about the VA’s predictive software launched is also highly experimental and you can bet if the VA can see the results from this under the guise of “research” they will. Never mind the suicide rate will more than likely remain the same, if not increase because the LAST THING ANY PTSD VET WANTS IS TO BE BACKED INTO A… Read more »
91Veteran
91Veteran
Nam, it has GOT to be research. I can’t believe something like this can be developed without flaws, so it will have to be adjusted over time, which in my opinion puts it in the realm of research. I just can’t believe any ethical reviewer of a proposal for this would conclude this as anything other than research. How many times will the VA rely on this until it gets reliable enough to be above 60% accurate? How many times does Microsoft put out software patches? I suspect this software would have to be updated as often, but how many… Read more »
91Veteran
91Veteran
Yeah, I find this whole scheme to be particularly offensive. At what point was I or any other veteran notified that my medical records would be provided to a third party for thought crimes? Or key word searched for any possible problem they deem should be looked at? I have a BIG fucking problem with this, simply because of the potential for error and abuse. This supposes that VA whale with the 3 inch nails and sticky jelly fingers didn’t fat finger an entry, and suddenly when I show up for a VA appointment, I get treated like a bumped… Read more »
Windguy
Windguy
C’mon Ben. This is just another acronym wrapped around a well lobbied contract for some beltway mainstream healthcare software bandits already cuddled up to a bus load of malleable Congressmen who now have a retired VA executive on their BoD. Hell, anyone who can fog a mirror can predict suicide. Send a bunch of guys off to fucked up wars, make them do horrible shit for the profit of others at the expense of the innocent. Then take a percentage of those adrenaline junkies who did multiple(s) of tours, and give them the finger when they ask for what they… Read more »
Gretchen

Hmmmm. I see lots of “armed vet” false flags coming. When in doubt, blame a vet. This is getting scary. Who needs enemies when you have friends like this?

91Veteran
91Veteran
As I mentioned above, at what point will other keywords be entered to search for predictors of other problems? Nicotine in a lab test so you are required to go through their anti-smoking program? THC in a lab test triggers the pharmacy to cease all prescriptions with a note to the DEA? The 300 pound whale doing intake, and the scale automatically triggers enrollment in their weight loss program? Why not use different keywords then for other medical issues common among different era veterans? What keywords would send an electric zap to a VA doctor for Agent Orange diseases? Gulf… Read more »
namnibor
namnibor
“[…What keywords would send an electric zap to a VA doctor for Agent Orange diseases? Gulf War diseases? Burn pits? TBI?…]” I suggest all VA practitioners at all levels of unqualified to be implanted with Advanced RFID chips (ARFID) at the base of their spine. (providing spine is something other than jelly fish) When provider requires notification of following: Agent Orange related diseases- Actual Agent Orange is released from the chip to central nervous system of hack. Gulf War related illnesses and Burn Pits- Spared no expense, the ARFID chips are MADE from Plutonium, so a little zap is no… Read more »
91Veteran
91Veteran

Nam, I think the ability to trigger the Stairmaster launcher is directly proportional to the investment in RFID businesses Isakson has.

Reminds me of years ago when the RFID industry hired former politicians to push their sales. These former hack politicians started pushing other politicians to pass legislation mandating putting RFID chips in all kinds of things, including anything defined as livestock.

If your cow wasn’t chipped, you couldn’t take it to the stockyard,

Same with your sheep. Same with your horse.

Gretchen

Aaahaha….did I just hear your ping? Seriously, you are right on!

Ex va
Ex va
This tool has been in use since Oct. ohhh, great. Hasn’t taken the suicidal numbers down, but it is saving lives. The va doesn’t want to treat by private sector standards when a Veteran admits to suicidal thoughts or attempts. The va is a risk to a suicidal Veteran because they refuse to treat them according to standards in the private sector for treatment. It would cost too much money to treat a suicidal Veteran inpatient to get him stable on medication or therapy. Money is more valuable than a Veteran life. If a Veterans meds stop working or something… Read more »
Ex va
Ex va
I do not trust a predictive analysis tool using past data to determine if a Veteran may or may not attempt or commit suicide. It sounds too invasive and a failure. We Veterans are human and too unpredictable to be analyzed by past data to determine what we may or may not do in the future. Our lives, thoughts and interactions are too sophisticated in nature to be explained thru a predictive analysis tool. This is just another attempt of placing a bandaid on something that requires surgery. It will fail as these other programs have failed. The majority of… Read more »
91Veteran
91Veteran
That makes me think of another FOIA suggestion for Ben, Exva. If this Magic 8 ball is searching records for triggers for suicide, what is the timeframe they will be searching? Can this system actually search an entire historical record of every veteran? Or will it only search records for a given time window, such as the last year? What if a veteran returned from Vietnam or the Gulf War, and was suicidal then, but after treatment, is no longer suicidal? I don’t recall the specific age, but I thought a good majority of veterans committing suicide were older, like… Read more »
namnibor
namnibor

“I guess this also means all those veterans given the “lost in the fire” excuse are just shit out of luck.”

No worries, the VA will **magically** discover the records were located at Area 51 all along.
If it will benefit the VA, they will be found.

Angela
Angela
Yep, Ex va, I agree with you wholeheartedly. All a bandaid trying to avoid the real deal. I disagree with the VA perspective that the past is a predictor of the future. One’s past is not an indicator of what may happen today. Yes, there maybe a history of severe problems or whatever but this history is just a snapshot in time. Just because it has happened does not mean that it will reoccur. This perspective that belongs to the VA is just a way for them to hold on to the past that gives them an excuse to discriminate,… Read more »
Angela
Angela
And too, when the VA has knowledge or records of the excruciating pasts of the veterans, it gives them an excuse to keep permanent labels on the veterans in which the VA uses as an excuse to justify not investing in the veterans in the now or future because the VA projects that if the veterans were once a risk that they will always be a risk. This not true. Anyone who is suicidal I would not trust the VA. I have lost all my trust in the VA. After really witnessing, whether it be with my friends, from my… Read more »
Angela
Angela

All part of their defeatist and sabatoging perspectives.

namnibor
namnibor
Benjamin- Great “Bad VA Art” today. She’s a VA Patient Advocate, right? Maybe the VA could utilize some of their own psychic employees at Philadelphia VAMC where in last year or two employees were forced to attend employee group psychic parties. I’m thinking just like in that book/movie “Minority Report”, the VA psychics will be placed in water-filled tubs to do their predictive vindictive behavioral analysis. Only problem is finding water tubs large enough. Solved. Horse and cattle water troughs might work in a pinch, with no room for actual water. Is the water really necessary? How about filling the… Read more »
NiteWish
NiteWish

Here is information the who, what, when, cost on how this came to be:
“http://data-informed.com/sentiment-analysis-tool-designed-to-predict-veterans-suicide-risk/”

91Veteran
91Veteran
Very informative NiteWish. It makes me more curious how the VA can use this with accuracy given that article. Yes it is keyword searching, but it was also clear about using social media content and access to a veterans cell phone content. Ain’t going to happen with me. It also contains words like “opt in” for their testing. I don’t recall ever having the choice of opting in to the VAs little experiment, and it certainly is an experiment unless the VA has already conducted testing to determine accuracy just based on VA medical records. Has the VA changed any… Read more »
NavInfPO6
NavInfPO6

91Veteran: what will they do when the vet suicide rate stays the same? . . . . .
The question should be – what will they do when the Suicide rate INCREASES?

91Veteran
91Veteran
Yep NavInfPO6, increases, or causes a serious decrease in getting proper care because vets have less trust in these nitwits after news of this being used gets out. Remember that bullshit excuse that the VA didn’t want hospital quality data made public because they thought it would bring distrust to vets? As if this won’t? The shit will hit the fan the very first time a vet is falsly pinged. Trouble is, will a vet be able to determine they were pinged by VAs Atari Intelligence Suicide Search? Or are VA providers being trained to lie to vets and tell… Read more »
Lem
Lem

Every ping will be false unless the vet has a gun to his head, a plastic bag over it or some other means of a final exit in action. That is the way most of us are even though we’ve been on the verge several times. So that remark is off center.

If you’ve been there it is a very short distance back.

Hopefully this is a step in the right direction. It is active instead of passive and watching veterans blow their brains out in the parking lot.

91Veteran
91Veteran

The email subscription check box is back and it is working Ben.

Thanks for bringing it back.

Jo3n

Since in Alabama, 15 years, I can’t remember how many psychiatrists I’ve seen. For last 8 months, I haven’t seen my psychiatrist. Just some scared to death kid. I’ve learned well, anything you say to some of them, can be hazardous to your health. I agree with everybody. June, Oh well, I’ve been waiting for forty five years, what’s another couple of months…. God Bless the Veterans. I don’t really feel comfortable talking about suicides. Too many, too close, and for too long…

namnibor
namnibor

@Jo3n- Right there with you on too many Veteran friends have been lost to suicide in just last 6 years.

Cantigny
Cantigny
the heck with this suicide predicition tool. sure, i have compassion and HOPE it works, but from all of our combined experiences, more times than not, VA will use it neg to the veteran. beats me how regarding details but they always find a way. do they not? more times than not, what you say at a VA appt is indeed twisted a bit and written down as a bit neg to the veteran and not VA. just go look at your VA med record and see for yourself. i know it is past time for opinions of this or… Read more »
ANutterVet
ANutterVet
@Namnibor @91Veteran @cj @Disgruntled Veteran @Corpsmanup! @Ex va @Crazy elf @Rich b @Dennis @Jo3n – Can’t the VA Physician detect if a Veteran is going to or has thoughts of suicide when the Veteran has their scheduled Office Appointments with their Primary Care Physician [PCP] or with the Veteran’s Behavioral Health Physician or Professional [BHP]? Is the VA relying more on the REACH software application in detecting the possible behavior of the Veteran, compared to his-her Physicians perceiving or discerning that the Veteran has the possibility of committing suicide and is in crisis? Either I’m missing something here, or this… Read more »
namnibor
namnibor

You are correct. Now going forward, the VA will likely fully blame the continued or even escalated Veteran Suicide rate on the very predictive software needing a $$$$$ band aid “fix”…completely removing any VA Dr. from any responsibility….that’s what I see coming with this.

Wait for it to be linked directly to VA TeleMentalHealth. “Max Headroom” will be everywhere. I predict this will make even less Vets use the VA if they have other options.

Ex va
Ex va
@ANutterVet, i think it will be something else that they will blame on with the continued failure of the high numbers of suicide in the Veteran population. It will be like the 1-800 number failure, the suicide prevention team failure, the clinic waitlists failures. The va doesn’t take responsibility that they started these programs/experiments and that they have failed. The va says we spent millions on this problem such as the 1-800 line and hired suicide prevention teams and now a predictive analysis tool. The va doesn’t state the outcomes of these programs/teams or the newest predictive analysis tool. The… Read more »
Lem
Lem

If you are going to reduce the numbers of suicide you have to start somewhere. At least this is an effort. Not clear the main culprit is being tagged (anosognosia) but at least it is a step in the right direction.

I don’t agree with lady Angela about “getting cured”. You never get cured of somatization. Pain is pain and the reaction to it is ultimately a finale exit if no relief is obtained.

namnibor
namnibor

Any software program can be created to be incredibly helpful.

However, when the “hardware human” is corrupt, you might as well infect a brand new computer with as many viruses as you can muster.

Garbage In, Garbage Out.

The hardware needs replaced at the VA.

Bilk
Bilk

Will they run rhis analytic before or after I waste myself.

If they wait until after they can tell Mr And Mrs taxpayer their tax dollar could not be better spent as a result of this “tool” they succesfully predicted suicides but they have also succesfulling lowered the cost of disibility monies being paid out to non breathing veterans who were previously breathing veterans and collecting disability.

What could be a better case scenario for the assholes who could not care less. BONUSES FOR ALL paid by of course from the monies not being paid out to dead veterans.

Will B
Will B

If the VA is implementing it, you can bet with certainty it will be used to loophole Veterans out of deserved benefits and suck up as many tax dollars as possible.

James vc
James vc

SciFy bullschitt save your money , use a dartboard , call a name and flip a coin , draw names from a hat or use the time honored eenie meenie minee mo technique ………

Rob D

I thought it was bad when I had an appt. cancelled and their excuse was “We called you, but you didn’t answer, so we cancelled it” which really ticked me off. But NOW it’s actually possible for them to say “We called you, but you didn’t answer, so we called the police to kick your door down”. Stuff like this never ceases to amaze me……

Gretchen

I think it is time to vet the doctors. If the doctor isn’t chairman of the department, or a resident in training, then he is very likely one of the dregs (like doctors who take horrible care of our elderly in nursing homes). These docs will do anything for a buck. No agenda is too horrific.

Bill
Bill

Dept heads are just the dregs that got promoted.

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