The VHA Innovators Network consists of VA employees who design innovative solutions to improve the way VA delivers care to Veterans. It’s known as iNET and is located at 34 VA facilities. VA employees in the program work on problems they and their Veterans experience firsthand.

It promotes a culture throughout VA that develops an innovative workforce to face challenges head-on to improve the way VA delivers care to its nation’s Veterans. Creating opportunities for VA employees to address frontline challenges and turn ideas into reality is one piece of what iNET does best.

The Network identifies deeply committed employees via an idea competition (Spark-Seed-Spread), then trains them to design differently as they develop and implement innovative solutions that improve Veteran health care.

Bootcamp kicks off innovation journey

Each year, a new group of employees kick-off their innovation journey by attending Accelerator Bootcamp, which took place virtually this year in November.

During this three-day event, more than 100 employee innovators had the chance to get to know one another, learn the fundamentals of iNET, and learn what the upcoming year will look like.

Dr. Clancy

Bootcamp attendees learned the ideas they will be exposed to and relationships they’ll create. This assists them in launching, refining, and growing their specific project; it provides them with new tools to be used throughout their career – embracing the ongoing, everlasting spirit of true innovation.

The attendees also had the privilege to hear directly from Dr. Carolyn Clancy, the Deputy Under Secretary for Health for the Office of Discovery, Education and Affiliate Networks, whose inspiring welcome was followed by an expert leadership panel from the Office of Healthcare Innovation & Learning.

The attendees were also able to hear from Aspen Labs, the company partnering with iNET to put on the Innovation Accelerator Program for the upcoming fiscal year.

Learning from the Veteran’s perspective

At the event, the attendees discussed the problems they are working to solve and how to learn more deeply about the problem from the Veterans’ perspective for whom they are designing solutions.

“There are so many ambitious people with fantastic ideas working in VHA,” said one attendee.

“There are a lot of good ideas being brought forward by people who want to improve service to Veterans,” said another.

Additional feedback showed how eager they are to continue networking and connecting with one another, to not only continue to inspire one another, but to pool resources to make big impacts as they build the future of Veteran care.

iNET’s mission is to lead the cultural revolution in which innovative thinking and doing can lead to endless possibilities.

By Kalyn Essex is the Palo Alto VA HCS innovation specialist and VHA IE communications officer

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Published on Dec. 19, 2021

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  1. Michael December 19, 2021 at 6:00 pm

    That’s a great idea but also include on answering the phone when veterans call to make appointments. Especially the primary care area. It’s stressful when I try to make appointments. and phone continues ring for a long time, especially close to the end of tour

  2. Larry Bunkelman December 19, 2021 at 4:44 pm

    I like this. Building pride into a job is really necessary to be successful. This collaboration will foster sharing and vastly improve current conditions. Kudos to the mindful person who came up with this.

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