VA Harnesses Big Data For Broader Impact

Judi Hasson | AOL Government | August 23, 2012

Dr. Stephan Fihn is sitting on the edge of a revolution at the Department of Veterans Affairs, where big data is becoming easily accessible for clinicians and analysts throughout its 160 hospitals. Fihn (pictured above) is director of Business Intelligence and Analytics for the Veterans Health Administration and a practicing physician at the VA Puget Sound Health Care System in Seattle, where he is helping to develop as well as benefiting from the VA's big data warehouse.

The massive project, expanded in November 2011, is growing every day with new data, giving 20,000 clinicians the tools to track medical trends, anticipate outcomes and delve into 80 billion data files searching for ways to improve healthcare and the delivery of services to 25 million veterans. "The excitement of having the warehouse allows us to have all the data in one place potentially linked together. It's populated in real time and gives us a look at what's going on right now," Fihn told AOL Government.

It is just the beginning of a new age for the VA, which can tap into millions of records to analyze more and more data in real time across many different populations and issues, including homeless veterans, suicide risks, disease trends and drug usage...