When challenges from the COVID-19 pandemic first emerged early in 2020, the IT workforce and leadership at VA’s Office of Information and Technology (OIT) identified opportunities for transforming Veteran digital experiences amid the uncertainty.

Known as Digital VA, the information technology (IT) and digital operations of VA successfully rose to meet the unexpected challenges posed by 2020 through a combination of teamwork, strategic thinking and nimble development of cutting-edge IT tools and applications.

Now, Digital VA’s 2021 Midyear Review video highlights the remarkably agile evolution of VA’s Office of Information and Technology during recent years and shows how earlier investments in IT and digital innovation proved especially meaningful during a time of unexpected disruption.

Watch Digital VA’s video, “To Win21,” to learn the full story of how VA’s workforce development efforts and dedication to technology transformation successfully served Veterans during a period of uncertainty.

From rapidly increasing telehealth capacity to quickly reconfiguring mobile texting tools for vaccine appointment scheduling, to enhancing features on a mobile platform that empowers families to honor deceased Veterans at national cemeteries via remote, a wide array of innovative solutions emerged during 2020 and the first half of 2021.

For Helga Rippen, MD, chief interoperability and Veteran access officer, the ability to rise to the challenges of 2021 vividly displayed VA’s nimble responsiveness and “changed how OIT is viewed.”

The full spectrum of the digital and IT features deployed or updated during VA’s COVID-19 mobilization secured service delivery to Veterans and families amid fast-changing public health safety specifications.

For example, by mid-2021, 50 percent of all Veteran health care interactions between Veterans Health Administration (VHA) clinical specialists and providers occurred via telehealth applications, a big jump from the previous percentage of remote visits, said Brian Mahlum, deputy director for Unified Communications Infrastructure.

The impressive ability of IT Specialists to activate transformational service delivery tools in 2020-21 sprung from earlier investments in workforce modernization, said Derrick Curtis, director of Software Testing and 508.

“Everyone understood their role in doing things differently, and everyone got on board with that,” Curtis said.

Overall, performance gains reaped during 2020-2021 were made possible by the Office of Information and Technology’s earlier decision to prioritize constant iteration. The enduring goal is to provide Veterans with quality services and on-demand, reliable user experiences. “We have maintained a high standard of service delivery,” said LaShaunné David, director of VA’s Privacy Service, adding that workforce productivity also increased during the pandemic emergency thanks to the Office of Information and Technology’s adherence to the principles of innovation, teamwork and customer service.

At the Office of Information and Technology, IT Specialists and division leaders focus on innovation, teamwork and creative deployment of mobile applications and other digital tools to provide quality service to Veterans each day – even amidst a once-a-generation public health emergency.

By VA’s Office of Information and Technology (OIT) contributed this report

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Published on Aug. 9, 2021

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