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Office of Public and Intergovernmental Affairs


VA Affirms Commitment to Innovation

February 20, 2013

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 VA Innovation Initiative Introduces Transformation to New Center for Innovation  

WASHINGTON – The Department of Veterans Affairs is launching the VA Center for Innovation (VACI), affirming its commitment to innovation and building on the success of the VA Innovation Initiative (VAi2).

“Ideas are the heart of innovation and VACI provides a dynamic ecosystem that lowers the barrier of entry for innovation within VA,” said Secretary of Veterans Affairs Eric K. Shinseki.  “The new Innovation Fellows Program, Entrepreneur-in-Residence Program, and Partnerships Program will bring proven innovators from government and the private sector into VA to focus on high-opportunity areas.”

Launched in 2010, VAi2 established a portfolio of more than 120 innovation projects that help VA identify, test, and evaluate promising solutions that enhance the accessibility and quality of care and services delivered to Veterans. As a permanent part of the department, VACI, which will be the new name for VAi2, will continue to tap talent from government, industry, and the entrepreneurial community. Also, VACI will add several new programs that expand VA’s capacity to embrace innovative ideas and address VA’s most critical challenges. 

VACI has launched a new web site, released its first annual report, and announced thirteen new awards from its industry innovation competition. These awards respond to needs identified by VA senior leadership and are focused on teleaudiology, prosthetic socket redesign, Blue Button, and automating the sterilization process for reusable medical instruments.

With the integration of VAi2 into the Center for Innovation, VA is taking a leadership role in making innovation a core competency and an ongoing practice in the second-largest federal agency. “By knitting together innovative talent and 21st century solutions into a vital ecosystem, we ensure that VA meets the evolving needs of current and future Veterans with energy and imagination,” said Director of VACI Jonah Czerwinski.

For more information about VACI, see our new website: www.innovation.va.gov.

VACI’s 13 new awards from the industry competition include: 

  • RemotEAR, by Otovation of King of Prussia, Pa., to improve the availability of audiology services for Veterans by providing a solution for assessing all audiology services through rehabilitation;
  • Technical Feasibility of Smartphone Based Teleaudiology, by Phonak of Warrenville, Ill., to enable remote programming of hearing aids through a smartphone;
  • Remote Audiometry in VA CBOCs, by Audiology, Inc., of Arden Hills, Minn., to develop an automated audiometer that can be used by audiology support personnel in VA facilities without an audiology clinic;
  • Cochlear Implant Programming, by Cochlear Americas of Centennial, Colo., for the remote programming of cochlear implants. The concept has been useful for other implant technologies but will be innovative for cochlear implants;
  • Quasi-Passive Prosthetic Socket Technology, by Massachusetts Institute of Technology of Cambridge, Mass., to improve socket fit by means of a permanent socket that allows for adjustments to stiffness and reduction of movement within the socket using continuous electronic sensors and laminate technology;
  • Pro-Active Dynamic Accommodating Prosthetic Socket, by Infoscitex of Waltham, Mass., to create a prosthetic socket that conforms to volume changes over the course of a day, as well as those caused by the gait cycle, with a system of sensors that automatically detect changes in pressure and allows the bladders to rapidly change in response to movement;
  • SOCAT: Socket Optimized for Comfort with Advanced Technology, by Florida State University of Tallahassee, Fla., to develop a new prosthetic socket that better manages changes in volume and pressure while providing active cooling and temperature control;
  • Synergetic Improvements for Transfemoral Prosthetic Sockets, by the Ohio Willow Wood Company of Mt. Sterling, Ohio, to create an improved transfemoral suspension and socket system made from polymer materials that draw heat away from the limb for enhanced performance and comfort;
  • Comprehensive National Kidney Disease Registry, by University of Michigan of Ann Arbor, Mich., to create a national database of VA patients suffering from kidney disease, enabling individual and longitudinal tracking of patients and outcomes;
  • VA Mobile Blue Button, by Agilex Technologies of Chantilly, Va., to allow patients to view and share their VA health data using their mobile devices. In addition, the application will enable secure messaging between VA providers and Veterans via mobile devices to meet their needs;
  • Blue Button Authentication Field Test Proposal, by Northrop Grumman of McLean, Va., to enable Veterans to authenticate online for greater flexibility in accessing their medical records and VA services;
  • Blue Button Extensions Medical Imaging, by Ray Group International of Washington, D.C., to give Veterans the ability to view and download their own medical images (such as X-rays, MRIs, and scanned medical records) via Blue Button for personal storage and to directly transmit them to their non-VA physicians;
  • Automated Integrated Perioperative Process, by GE Global Research of Niskayuna, N.Y., to help VA develop a fully automated process for sterilizing reusable medical instruments in order to prevent potentially life-threatening diseases for Veterans.

 

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