Researchers Using VA Data to Help Veterans

The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) has assembled a research team who are working toward identifying certain patterns within symptoms by pouring through millions of VA clinicians’ notes. The hope is that distinguishing patterns will help treat veterans of the Iraq and Afghanistan wars suffering from seemingly unexplainable conditions.

That veterans are returning from war suffering from conditions that modern epidemiological science cannot explain is not a new phenomenon. What is new, however, is that researchers working on these conditions are being given access to all the VA’s medical records as opposed to being limited to only those from their home hospital.

Some of the most common symptoms baffling researchers are:

  • Gastrointestinal problems;
  • Respiratory illness;
  • Blood disease; and
  • Skin rashes.

The VA is the single largest health care system in the United States and one of the earliest health care organizations to adopt digital record-keeping technology. The Veterans’ Informatics and Computing Infrastructure (VINCI) allows researchers secure access to VA patient records. Given the VA’s recent history of having seemingly secure information stolen, access on this level is not given lightly.

Researchers are only allowed to work within VINCI’s secure virtual environment behind the firewall so as to prevent theft of the data. The researchers’ first goal is to change all of the physicians’ narratives from the entire VINCI network into data that can be studied and analyzed. This data will generate millions of key words and will then be analyzed to determine if any patterns emerge.

The ultimate goal of this undertaking is to understand how symptoms and causes are linked. Once on that track it may very well be possible to pin point specific origins. The more data researchers are given to analyze the more likely it is an answer can be found.

Learn more about researchers using the VA’s extensive health care records to find a link between causes and symptoms of mysterious conditions plaguing veterans.

If you are a disabled veteran who has been denied disability compensation or have not yet applied for benefits from the VA, contact Veterans Help Group. You may be entitled to certain programs and benefits so contact our veterans disability rights firm today.