The iEX Talks are a series of TED-style talks from the Veterans Health Administration Innovation Ecosystem (VHA IE). Presented at the 2021 VHA Innovation Experience (iEX) Virtual Series, the iEX Talks highlight the power of innovation in creating real value and impact for VHA employees, academia, industry partners and the Veteran community. These innovations are breaking boundaries and helping VHA better serve our nation’s Veterans. This week, dive into the iEX Talk about the VHA Extended Reality (XR) Network.

In 2018 Caitlin Rawlins, RN, from the Charles George VA Medical Center (VAMC), piloted the first distraction-based virtual reality program at VHA that kicked off the nation-wide VHA Extended Reality Network. The VHA XR Network supports VA facilities at any and every stage of ideation and development, serving as a force multiplier that transforms individual efforts into nationwide impact for Veterans.

Watch the iEX Talk to learn about the VHA XR Network and hear the story behind Rawlins’ pilot, where she forged a better way forward for Veterans suffering chronic pain through cutting-edge XR technologies. XR, which encompasses virtual, augmented and mix realities, can help Veterans recover from post-traumatic stress disorder, anxiety, depression and chronic pain through immersive therapy.

As the VHA IE continues to see the growth of thought leaders like Rawlins in virtual reality, the XR Network collaboration brings a community of internal and external thought leaders together to share resources, best practices and lessons learned, while also defining the landscape of XR in health care.

What started as 49 VA sites using XR is now 109 sites. The VHA XR Network has engaged over 200 frontline clinicians, researchers and administrators; identified over 80 VA facilities leveraging XR to improve Veteran care and empower forward-leaning clinicians; launched multiple pilots and initiatives assessing XR in over 20 use cases; and listened to the voice of the Veteran by continuing to pursue opportunities for further growth and expansion of XR use across VHA.

By Allison Amrhein is the director of operations for the VHA Innovators Network and communications lead for the VHA Innovation Ecosystem

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Published on Dec. 1, 2021

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