New VA tool uses artificial intelligence to predict COVID-19 patient mortality

Tim Strebel is no stranger to the spirit of innovation. Currently a computer programmer focusing on health informatics at the Washington DC VA Medical Center, Strebel has been recognized by VA for his ingenuity.

He’s a two-time winner of the VA “Shark Tank” Award, which honors innovative practices, for developing two software packages to automate the jobs of those who work in prosthetics. The software expedites the billing process for home oxygen users and the ordering of eyeglasses. Both products are used at many VA medical centers. For the eyeglass tool, he also won VA’s Gears of Government Award, which recognizes federal employees and teams whose dedication supports exceptional delivery of key outcomes for the American people.

Strebel, a computer programmer at the DC VA, has earned VA awards for his innovations. Now, in what Strebel calls the “most significant” work in his seven-year VA career, he’s developed a tool that uses artificial intelligence to calculate the risk of a COVID-19 patient dying within 120 days of diagnosis. The hope is that clinicians can use those predictions to improve the treatment of their patients. The tool is being piloted at 13 VA medical centers. Strebel and his colleagues describe the tool in a paper to be published in the journal BMJ Health Care & Informatics.

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