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Sharks Snag VA Pittsburgh Innovations

Deirdre Quinn, CHERP core investigator at VA Pittsburgh, pitches Contraception on Demand to VA sharks Brynn Cole, VHA innovation ecosystem management analyst, Leandro DaSilva, New England Center for Innovation excellence director, and Michael Kilmer, VISN 19 network director.
Deirdre Quinn, CHERP core investigator at VA Pittsburgh, pitches Contraception on Demand to VA sharks Brynn Cole, VHA innovation ecosystem management analyst, Leandro DaSilva, New England Center for Innovation excellence director, and Michael Kilmer, VISN 19 network director.

Two health care innovations developed at VA Pittsburgh Healthcare System are among VHA’s 10 Promising Practices for 2022 following the annual Shark Tank Competition at the Innovation Experience (iEX) Conference.

VHA’s annual iEX conference and Shark Tank competition showcase VA employee-developed innovations that improve Veterans health care. During this year’s Shark Tank Competition, VAPHS’s two teams were among 14 finalists who presented their innovations to other VISNs and medical centers — the sharks — for possible adoption. Both VAPHS innovations — Contraception on Demand and Preventing Post-Operative Readmissions with a Surgical Safety Net — finished in the top 10 and were picked up by other medical centers:

Contraception on Demand

Deirdre Quinn, Core Investigator, Center for Health Equity Research and Promotion

The Contraception on Demand innovation allows VHA pharmacists to dispense a year’s supply of hormonal contraception—most often birth control pills—to women Veterans. With the number of women Veterans using VA increasing, giving them easy access to contraceptive services is a top priority for VA’s Office of Women’s Health.

Contraception on Demand expands Veterans’ access to contraceptives and improves their experiences with reproductive health care at VA. It also trains clinical pharmacists in patient-centered contraceptive counseling and improves their job satisfaction.

VISN 8 in Florida, which includes VA medical centers in Orlando, Tampa, Miami and West Palm Beach, elected to adopt the innovation. VISN 8 claims one of the fastest growing female populations, with approximately 35,000 Veterans who could use Contraception on Demand. The practice is easy to adopt and implement at very low cost to individual VA facilities, resulting in an estimated cost savings for the health system at large.

Preventing Post-Operative Readmissions with a Surgical Safety Net

Visala Muluk, M.D., Medical Director, Interdisciplinary Medical, Preoperative, Assessment, Consultation and Treatment (IMPACT) Clinic

Hospital readmissions after surgery negatively impact the lives of Veterans. VA Pittsburgh created a surgical safety net that not only reduces readmissions, but also enhances Veterans’ overall surgical experience, from admission to recovery. This innovation uses a high-reliability process built within the IMPACT Clinic — which leads the nation as a Joint Commission Recognized Best Practice Initiative — to identify at-risk patients before their surgeries. The Surgical Safety Net combines nursing, physical therapy, telehealth and social work, plus a 24/7 staffed phone service, to give Veterans wraparound surgical care.

Since the practice started at VA Pittsburgh, the medical center has prevented between 50 to 70 hospital readmissions and saved more than $1 million.

VISN 16’s Central Arkansas VA Healthcare System elected to adopt the innovation. They plan to use existing resources such as physical therapy, social work, etc., to coordinate with the practice.

 

Innovations coming to VA Pittsburgh

VA Pittsburgh also bid on — and won — the chance to adopt two promising practices from other VA facilities. They will build work groups soon to spread these innovations:

CPRS Booster/Robotic Employee Accelerator | Adam Bock, M.D., Chief of Informatics at Minneapolis VA
CPRS Booster is a computer automation platform that dramatically speeds use of VA computer systems by automating complex, tedious and redundant multistep actions. Now, with the press of a single keyboard button (usually a function key), Booster will automatically and very rapidly perform tasks that previously required extensive typing, use of a computer mouse, and processing of multiple screens.

Medical Companion Program | Stephanie Sawin, Edward Hines Jr. VA Hospital
The Medical Companion Program will provide caregiver services instead of hospitalization for Veterans without a responsible adult available for support during outpatient procedures that use sedation and/or anesthesia. This service will increase Veterans’ access to care while reducing costs to the government. Currently, when a responsible adult is not available, procedures may be cancelled or postponed, or the Veteran may be admitted for observation. The Medical Companion Program offers time-limited, VA-paid medical companion services that include travelling with the Veteran to the hospital, staying during the procedure, and waiting with the Veteran at the discharge location for a clinically ordered amount of time.

 

VHA Diffusion of Excellence’s Shark Tank Competition identifies field-developed innovations that promote positive outcomes and improved experiences for Veterans and employees. The competition spotlights dedicated VHA employees who are working on some of the toughest challenges across VHA and provides a platform for front-line team members and leaders to contribute to our learning healthcare system.

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