Last week the VHA Innovation Ecosystem (VHA IE) held its third annual VHA Innovation Experience (iEX). The event showcased the impact of collaborative partnerships on innovation at VA. It also demonstrated the power of VA employees developing, implementing, and diffusing innovations and promising practices.

“Every year, the Innovation Experience reminds us of why we’re here and why we do what we do for Veterans,” said Dr. Carolyn Clancy, deputy under secretary for Health for Discovery, Education and Affiliate Networks. “It underscores the power of partnership and the key actions we must take [to] nurture innovation in the workforce. We’ve improved care for over one million Veterans, lowered taxpayer costs by over $40 million, engaged more than 150 facilities in identifying and scaling innovation, and involved 25,000 employees in innovation competency and training.”

Incredible leaders in health care innovation, such as Dean Kamen, Mark Johnson, and Toby Redshaw, all brought external experiences and perspectives for consideration and exploration. Kamen spoke about the need for partnership in improving health care and how VA is uniquely positioned to lead the way. He then made a special announcement: he and VA partner SoldierStrong would be donating 10 iBOT chairs to VA.

The iEX Talks showcased how, through partnerships and innovations, VA is able to deliver better care to Veterans. Through collaborations with VA, we learned how Medivis is advancing surgical intervention with their visualization tools using augmented reality; how Podimetrics is providing at-home, early diabetic limb loss detection; how Trugenomix is diagnosing behavioral health disorders earlier and more effectively; and how all of VA’s partners are changing and saving Veteran lives alongside VA. You can see each partner’s incredible story in the video above.

On a parallel thread, the Diffusion of Excellence Shark Tank competition and iEX Demos displayed the tremendous impact of internal collaboration. Shark Tank finalists described how promising practices – like the Memphis VA Medical Center (VAMC) TeleLaction Program, the Drive-Through Vaccination Program from the North Florida/South Georgia Veterans Health System, and the Voluntary Curbside Delivery Service at the Ralph H. Johnson VAMC – can be replicated to improve Veteran care at other facilities.

During iEX Demos, employee innovators from VHA Innovators Network sites told the stories of innovative products they designed from a sketch into a prototype. Those include the MOBILE Simulation Cart from the Cincinnati VAMC, and new programs they developed, like the VA St. Louis Health Care System’s Spinal Cord Injury Sexual Health and Fertility Interdisciplinary Approach. Check out the full presentations in the links above to see how employee-driven innovation is working to change and save Veteran lives.

One iEX presenter shared, “A heightened appreciation for the goodness inherent in VHA is the unexpected benefit I most treasure from presenting at the VHA Innovation Experience: audience members told me how iEX enhanced their view of VHA and VA, and that enhanced view affirmed the pride I take in working at VA.”

More information

If you missed a moment of the VHA Innovation Experience, watch it all on VA’s YouTube channel anytime.

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Published on Nov. 12, 2020

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