What's the forecast for VA innovation in 2018?
In 2018, VHA's efforts to encourage and diffuse best practices and innovation throughout its health care system are poised to move forward in significant ways. VHA's successful Diffusion of Excellence Initiative is wrapping up its facilitated implementation of the ten Gold Status practices selected in the third "Shark Tank" competition held in June 2017.
During the facilitated implementation process, champions for each of the ten practices spend six months working with other facilities to help them adapt and implement the practices that were successful at their own facilities. In March, applications for the 2018 VA Shark Tank Competition were opened to VHA employees, and the virtual competition will take place this summer.
The VA Shark Tank Competitions play an important role in the innovation ecosystem VHA is building — an ecosystem in which many VHA employees are engaged in finding and testing new and better ways to provide Veterans with world-class health care. Cultivating an innovation ecosystem empowers employees to see and solve problems at the source; takes advantage of VHA's existing capacity and brainpower; and keeps employees engaged, learning new skills and growing in their careers.
Through training programs and investing in innovations, the VA Innovators Network is developing entrepreneurial and innovative front-line staff members who are helping to shape the future of the VA through the new solutions they are creating to serve Veterans. The network brings together VHA innovators from across the enterprise to successfully design, develop, and diffuse ideas throughout the system, using a Spark-Seed-Spread Innovation Investment Program.
Another way in which VHA intends to increase innovation is through the establishment of regional and local "learning collaboratives" to make connections among employees with similar interests. These collaboratives will put together groups of VA employees with shared interests to learn from each other and share what they've learned. The process will begin with monthly "Diffusion Grand Rounds," in which three VA innovators will present on promising practices they are working on around a similar theme, followed by a discussion.
The process will be augmented by the creation of regional learning collaboratives to foster continued discussion and by the establishment of a "digital marketplace" — a place for VA staff to find solutions to problems they are facing, and best practices that have worked elsewhere. The marketplace will provide a centralized location for interested VA staff to access ideas and tested solutions with proven results — thereby creating a more integrated health care system and diffusing best practices.
"It's a really exciting period for Diffusion," concluded Dr. Ryan Vega, Director of VHA's Diffusion of Excellence Initiative. "The first phase has been successful, and now it's time for us to grow!"