It has been a long road during an unprecedented year, full of creativity, adaptation, set-backs, and even some sharks, but the VHA Diffusion of Excellence Fellows (Diffusion Fellows) remained dedicated to spreading their incredible work to other facilities within the Veterans Health Administration (VHA).

From February 9–11, the Diffusion Fellows, whose programs have changed and saved Veteran lives in their facilities, met virtually during the VHA Diffusion of Excellence Base Camp (Base Camp) for the first time with Implementing Facility Fellows (IFFs) to begin the work of developing implementation plans, working through challenges, and building a framework for impacting as many Veteran lives as possible.

Diffusion Fellows and IFFs began the three-day event by getting to know each other and the VHA Diffusion of Excellence (Diffusion) program. Through engaging with each other in intensive break-out sessions and learning from industry leaders in innovation and project management, the participants were able to come out of Base Camp with a plan to begin spreading their innovation to the Implementing Facilities.

Because VA Medical Centers vary in size, services offered, and organizational structure, successful implementation at one facility does not guarantee success at another. At Base Camp, participants proactively identified and addressed these challenges. By developing a roadmap for these challenges prior to implementation, the likelihood of success is increased as the practice spreads.

“As with previous years, I was amazed by the incredible work done at Base Camp this year, even with the challenges presented by a virtual program,” said Blake Henderson, Director of Diffusion. “Both the Diffusion Fellows and the IFF came committed to finding ways to spread these incredible practices and showed the dedication VA employees have to continuously improving Veteran care through innovation.”

Innovation Programs

Diffusion, a VHA Innovation Ecosystem portfolio, is one of VA’s most successful innovation programs. Since 2015, the program has been taking frontline innovations developed by VA staff and helped to build and spread them, sometimes expanding them into national programs that impact all of VHA – and even health care writ large.

Diffusion has now identified 69 promising practices that have been replicated more than 800 times across almost all VA facilities. This program is changing and saving the lives of hundreds of thousands of Veterans. With an addition of these ten new practices implementing at 15 new facilities and 2 VISNs, Diffusion will continue to change and save Veteran lives for years to come.

Blake Henderson is the director of the Diffusion Excellence. 

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Published on Feb. 26, 2021

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