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March 6, 2023

VA Data Scientist Receives Fed 100 Award for Using AI to Improve Veterans' Health Care

 Timothy S. Strebel

Timothy S. Strebel

VA data scientist Timothy S. Strebel was recognized for developing an innovative risk model that uses artificial intelligence to calculate the risk of Veteran mortality within 120 days of a COVID-19 diagnosis. The tool aggregates data from multiple sources to support clinician decision making. It helps identify high-risk patients so providers can address patient needs and reduce health inequities for older, minority, and vulnerable Veterans. Strebel and colleagues describe the COVID-19 mortality model in a paper in BMJ Health Care & Informatics.

Strebel developed the tool in collaboration with the VA National Artificial Intelligence Institute (NAII), which was launched in 2019 to advance AI research and development, implementation, policy, and collaboration to benefit Veterans. The mortality model was piloted at 13 Veterans Affairs Medical Centers nationally in 2021 and 2022. Additionally, the Kansas City VA Medical Center adapted the tool to assist clinicians in setting up appropriate levels of post-discharge care.

The AI-driven tool provides a model for how to disperse an AI solution in a clinical setting. It has helped VA determine how AI can support operations, strategic planning and palliative care coordination. Using the tool, clinicians and other staff have gained greater understanding and appreciation of AI and its value in patient care.

NAII launched the AI Network in 2022, which established AI research and development capacity at four hubs nationwide. The AI Network provides opportunities to iterate and scale projects, drawing from diverse talent and patient populations. From 2021-2022, Strebel was the supervisor for the Artificial Intelligence Center of Translation in Washington, D.C., one of four network hubs. He has since moved into a data scientist position at the Washington VA Medical Center, where he is active in AI research and assists with national efforts to expand the role of AI within VA.

A Veteran himself, Strebel has dedicated his career to creating solutions that improve Veterans’ health care and lives. Strebel served in the Army for nine years, primarily as a logistician. He completed combat tours in Iraq and Afghanistan.

A two-time winner of the VA Shark Tank Award which honors innovation, Strebel developed two software packages that automated prosthetics work, expediting billing for home oxygen users and ordering eyeglasses. Working with NAII and the Office of the VA Chief Human Capital Officer, Strebel helps VA develop tools and methods to recruit and retain talent in a highly specialized, competitive market. New talent will advance AI to help VA employees improve the delivery of health care for Veterans. Strebel’s ingenuity in AI is transforming the way VA serves Veterans.

The Federal 100 Awards are prestigious awards that celebrate federal IT professionals who are paving the way for future accomplishments in the development and management of IT. The Federal 100 honors leaders at all levels who have gone above and beyond to demonstrate how technology can make the government run better.

The 2023 Fed 100 Awards will be presented April 20, 2023, at the National Cathedral in Washington, D.C.

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