Face of InnoVAtion is a regular series from the VHA Innovation Ecosystem (VHA IE) focusing on VA employees who are working to change and save Veteran lives through innovation. This month meet Dr. Kushal Shah, clinical pharmacy manager and supervisor of Ambulatory Care at Edward Hines, Jr. VA Hospital.
Innovation and technology have always been important to Dr. Kushal Shah. However, it wasn’t until he came to VA that he truly discovered ways to integrate technology into routine practices – such as writing prescriptions or regular checkups – that Veterans and caregivers experience regularly to improve the safety, quality and efficiency of those practices. Inspired by his mentor, Dr. Sunil Wadhwani, pharmacy chief at the Mann-Grandstaff VA Medical Center, he dove headfirst into connecting his care for Veterans and his passion for tech.
“I grew up with a passion for technology and health care. I pursued pharmacy as a career knowing it would provide the best of both worlds,” said Dr. Shah.
Dr. Shah is a graduate from Idaho State University with a Doctor of Pharmacy (PharmD). He worked as a clinical pharmacy specialist prior to transitioning into his current role as a clinical pharmacy manager and supervisor of Ambulatory Care at the Edward Hines, Jr. VA Hospital. It was here that he began developing the Population Health Management Tool for Biologics, a system that helps make relevant patient information, like allergies and health issues, easily accessible by providers.
His work led him to apply to the VHA Innovators Network (iNET) 2021 Spark-Seed-Spread Innovation Investment Program. Selected as a Spark Investee, Dr. Shah’s initiative centers around creating a population health management tool for biologics that allows VA caregivers to get a full understanding of a patient’s history and care easily and quickly, prioritizing the Veteran’s health care needs, improving patient outcomes, and decreasing the cost of care. By using this tool, caregivers can have a better workflow between the many touchpoints a Veteran has with VA, including the pharmacy.
“My favorite thing about working at VA and in the innovation space would be the support from leadership and iNET to pursue new ideas, pilot new initiatives, challenge status quo, invest in VA employees’ professional development, and network with other investees across VA,” said Dr. Shah.
These tools are all supplied through iNET, which offers resources like the Spark-Seed-Spread Innovation Accelerator Bootcamp, monthly accelerator, leadership support, and networking opportunities. iNET resources had a tremendous impact on Dr. Shah as a Spark-Seed-Spread Investee, providing him a platform to learn and grow along with other Investees.
“It is truly a rewarding experience working with iNET,” said Dr. Shah. “iNET has built a culture of innovation in VA and it is refreshing to see creativity and innovation taking place in the middle of the COVID-19 pandemic to improve care for Veterans and shape the future of health care.”