Suicide is a major issue facing the United States. According to the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA), in 2014, there were 41,425 suicides among U.S. adults. The VA also reported that among all U.S. adult deaths from suicide that year, 18% (7,403) were identified as Veterans of U.S. military service. Moreover, an American Foundation for Suicide Prevention Study from 2014 reported that suicide was the 10th leading cost of death in the U.S. and that, each year, Americans that die by suicide cost the U.S. $51 billion.
Fortunately, under the leadership of Secretary David Shulkin, M.D., the VA has made the elimination of suicide as a cause of death among our Veterans a major focus of his administration. This has ushered in funding, interest from some of the world’s brightest minds, and an intense effort to identify opportunities to leverage technology to help deal with this ever vexing problem. As one might imagine, there are many ways that technology can play a role in helping to work towards a goal of zero deaths by suicide.
Data visualization tools like those offered by Iconic Data’s Patient Case Manager (PCM)™ via PCM’s Suicide Prevention Manager™ module, provide health care provider organizations like the VA with real time clinical and administrative process measurement tools that include data visualization technology. This technology puts actionable information at the fingertips of social workers, case managers, physicians, and facility managers and leaders. The data visualization tools are essential as they help these stakeholders identify trends and issues in real time that may require immediate or urgent action. The meaningful and thoughtful presentation of the right data, at the right time, in real time is critical, in particular when dealing with life and death situations such as that presented by suicide.
Solutions such as Iconic Data's PCM Suicide Prevention Manager™ in combination with other technologies such as the VA’s REACH VET analytics platform are exciting innovations in this new era of technology enabled suicide prevention. Together, these cutting edge technologies provide a robust suicide prevention armamentarium that helps with the identification and management of patients at risk for suicide improving the suicide prevention team’s awareness about situations that may require intervention; and to use a tag line from the 1980s cartoon, G.I. Joe, “...knowing is half the battle.”