At the end of last year, the VA published its 2023 National Veteran Suicide Prevention Report. They found that 6,392 veterans died by suicide in 2021, up 114% over 2020. What was especially alarming was the suicide increase for women veterans, up 24.1% compared with an 6.3% increase among male veterans.
The challenge for the VA is one of predicting—who is at high risk?
VA caseworkers and suicide prevention coordinators typically carry heavy caseloads of high-risk patients, making constant accurate monitoring of all patients difficult. The adoption of advanced software solutions is allowing VA teams to access the right data in real time.
One advancement is now used to track veterans identified by the VA as being at high risk. When a high-risk veteran is in a VA Emergency Department, if hospitalization is not indicated, VA staff are now required to complete a safety plan for them prior to discharge. The results include:
- Significant improvement in their SPED compliance – in some cases, maintaining sustained periods of 100% compliance
- This technology saves suicide prevention teams significant time by improving efficiencies in key daily workflows
- User-friendly functionality and features streamline critical and required prevention and care monitoring activities, easing the burden on VA staff and allowing more time for direct patient care
- The time saved by VA suicide prevention teams using one particular tool found an average of 80% decrease in time required to complete several tasks, including data retrieval, care coordination, and care pathway compliance monitoring activities
Traditional AI could also assist the VA with efforts to support and identify at-risk veterans. Emotion AI that can recognize, understand, and respond to human emotions in real time could also be utilized to identify veterans at high risk.
Improving interactions and reducing gaps in services for our veterans could decrease frustration and minimize wait times while increasing satisfaction and compliance. Veterans are more likely to remain engaged in care when they feel that they are seen, heard, and being cared for as quickly as possible.