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With the first three Veterans Health Administration (VHA) Innovation Experience (iEX) Virtual Series events now concluded, it’s time to get excited about the 2021 marquee event, occurring virtually October 27-28.

This year, we are bringing back favorites from past years, while providing fresh insights into how VA is using innovation to tackle the challenges Veterans face today. iEX will allow the public, innovators, and VA employees to experience and celebrate how VHA innovation, collaboration, and technology are breaking boundaries, forging the future of Veteran health care, and most importantly, changing and saving Veteran lives.

You can catch all of these can’t-miss features at this year’s iEX:

  1. 2021 VHA Shark Tank Competition: The VHA Shark Tank Competition returns! This year’s redesigned, fin-credible event brings a new set of VHA Shark Tank priorities and finalists for Medical Center and VISN Director Sharks to sink their teeth into. Don’t forget, you get to decide the Audience Award winner!
  2. iEX Talks: One of VA’s most engaging, emotional and impactful events, the iEX Talks return once more to bring you the stories behind the innovation. This TED Talk-style speaker series provides VA innovators with a platform to showcase innovations that challenge our beliefs, stir the imagination, and – most importantly – demonstrate real value and impact for Veterans. Talks this year cover a wide variety of innovations, all with stories behind them that show the passion and dedication innovative VA employees have for changing and saving Veteran lives.
  3. Keynote From Dr. Taryn Marie Stejskal: Taryn Marie Stejskal, founder and chief resilience officer for Resilience Leadership Institute (RLI), will deliver a keynote called “The (Not-So-Surprising) Link Between Resilience, Innovation, and Creativity.” Stejskal will share the foundational elements of resilience that accelerate innovation.
  4. iEX Demos: The iEX Demos return in a big way this year, with more than 50 innovators presenting their groundbreaking work. Presenters come from all sections of the VHA Innovation Ecosystem (VHA IE), including the Innovators Network, the VA National Centers for Innovation to Impact, the National Center for Collaborative Healthcare Innovation, and the winners of the VHA IE/Founder Institute Breaking Boundaries Collaboration Challenge. Presenters have three minutes to tell the story of their innovation and then engage with attendees on the virtual platform.
  5. Lead-In Events: The three events preceding the iEX Marquee Event may already be over, but by registering now you’ll gain access to the iEX Virtual Event Platform and be able to watch and engage with these three exciting panels. Discover the winners of the Breaking Boundaries Collaboration Challenge, see how VA’s health care is changing during the Forging a Healthier Future: Post-Pandemic Care panel, and learn how VA is tackling health equity by watching Breaking Boundaries: Using Innovation to Advance Health Equity.
  6. Puppies: Yes, puppies. Think innovation can only be about medical devices and complicated science? At VA, innovation takes all forms so that we can address the health of the Veteran holistically. At iEX, we’ll be welcomed by a very special group of fluffy innovators who are helping Veterans (and the rest of us) with our overall wellness. You won’t want to miss an adorable moment!
  7. Secretary Denis McDonough – Highlighting the importance of innovation at VA, Secretary Denis McDonough will deliver remarks at this year’s iEX. McDonough has stated that every decision he makes will have the goal of increasing Veteran access to care and improving outcomes for them. In his talk, he will discuss how innovation and VHA IE are helping lead the way in these endeavors.
  8. VHA iEX Awards: iEX is a unique opportunity to recognize and celebrate the amazing work and innovation that’s being done through VHA IE. To that end, three prestigious awards will be presented at iEX: the Robert L. Jesse Award for Excellence in Innovation, the Innovation Specialist of the Year Award, and the iNET Investee of the Year Award.
  9. Fireside Chat: Veteran Transportation: Join Indra Sandal as she sits down for a fireside chat with VA transportation leaders and Uber Health to explore the impacts of transportation challenges on Veterans and how VA is working to remove barriers to care for Veterans. This session will allow industry and government to come together for a discussion centered on disruptive innovation in medical transportation and strategies to optimize future collaborations.
  10. Gio Stent: Finding a Unique Solution to a Unique Problem: iEX is about exploring and celebrating the personal stories of Veterans who are directly impacted by VA innovation. The creation of the Gio Stent is one such story. It’s more than just the story of a Veteran patient and his audiologist – it’s the story of creating a unique solution to a unique problem that changed the life of a 76-year-old Veteran named Michael Nicoletti. Join us to hear from the experts who made Gio Stent possible.
  11. Your Fellow Veterans: The heart and soul of the VHA Innovation Experience and the very reason VHA IE is here are Veterans. We encourage all Veterans, their loved ones and families to join us for this incredible event. Not only will you discover how VA is working to change and save Veteran lives, you’ll be able to engage with the very people working on the frontlines to do so. Register today and start networking with your fellow Veterans before the Marquee Event kicks off!

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By Ryan Vega, MD, MSHA, is the chief officer of the Office of Healthcare Innovation and Learning in the VHA Office of Discovery, Education and Affiliate Networks

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Published on Oct. 20, 2021

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