When it comes to exploring new ways to care for patients, VA has a unique advantage: We’re the nation’s largest integrated health care system. And that means we can access the nation’s largest store of voluntary patient data.
The Million Veteran Program is our national research effort that uses voluntary health data to identify genetic factors that contribute to disease, and even conditions like PTSD.
Voluntary data is allowing VA medical professionals across the country to conduct their own innovative research that will benefit millions of Americans.
In Virginia, researchers spent years studying how eye movement is affected by neurological disorders such as Parkinson’s Disease. They discovered that each disease is associated with a different eye movement abnormality. That means the presence of these disorders can be detected by having patients undergo simple, non-invasive eye tests. And it means they can be detected more accurately and much earlier – in some cases, up to 10 years before more serious symptoms emerge.
Data is also playing a big role in the groundbreaking work we’re doing in precision oncology.
For decades, cancer has either meant surgery or administering poison to kill the cancer that severely weakens the patient, or both.
But through precision oncology, we can study the genetic makeup of tumors and design treatments that attack the cancer, not the patient. VA has already built targeted therapies to attack some forms of leukemia. These therapies are more effective and are already making these cancers less lethal.
Precision oncology means earlier and more accurate cancer detection, less guesswork about treatment, and patients who are more comfortable and have more peace of mind. It’s no wonder one researcher called VA’s precision oncology program “the future of cancer care.”
Your family’s story
Creative use of data is also driving our new Veterans Legacy Memorial service, which lets families call up information about any Veteran buried in a national cemetery on a computer or their phone.
Soon they’ll be able to add their own stories to these pages, so everyone can learn about their loved ones who served this nation so bravely.
I’m proud to lead a VA in which so many skilled professionals are using technology and data to improve the lives of Veterans.
And I’m proud to say we are upholding VA’s lasting legacy as a center of innovation.