I’m excited about VA’s Industry Innovation Competition for 2016. It’s an opportunity for the private sector to help solve the most pressing challenges in medicine. This year’s goal is to find solutions to improve mental health care — and the ideas submitted in 2016 could have a positive impact on Veterans for generations to come.
Example, last year, VA hosted the first VA Innovation Creation Series for Prosthetics and Assistive Technologies to help accelerate the development of personalized technologies to improve care and quality of life for Veterans. (Read our blog announcement here.) That series culminated in a 2-day “make-a-thon” at the Richmond VA Medical Center last July.
It’s fascinating to see all the developments taking place in modern medicine, especially those related to technology. Take a look at three impressive health care innovations being incubated right now that may help our fellow Veterans recover and maintain their health:
Proteus Digital Health makes a “smart pill” that wirelessly alerts an app after it’s been swallowed. The pill uses digestible sensors made from copper and magnesium that react with stomach acid to send a tiny electrical signal, which is picked up by a Band Aid–like patch worn on the skin. That patch then alerts the Proteus app, which can send reminders to both the patient and doctor if a dose is missed. Proteus executives say their goal is to fix a long-standing and often fatal problem: missed medication, which causes about 125,000 deaths annually in the United States alone.
Printing Organs on Demand
Researchers at the Wake Forest Institute for Regenerative Medicine are using modified ink-jet technology to build a variety of organ prototypes – including skin for soldiers with life-threatening burns. Researchers are also exploring printing complex tissue components for facial and skull reconstruction using a 3-D printer.
A Gel That Instantly Stops Bleeding
“Imagine that you’re a soldier running through a battle field, you get hit in the leg with a bullet. Instead of bleeding out in three minutes you pull a small pack of gel out of your belt, and with the press of a button, you’re able to stop your own bleed and you’re on your way to recovery.” VetiGel stops traumatic bleeds in seconds without the need for manual pressure, making it easier to treat wounds in emergency situations. It has been determined safe to use on animals in veterinary settings – and it could save lives on the battlefield once it is approved for human use, the company hopes, within the next year.
Although it can take years for medical innovations to come to fruition, there is something you can do to advance the health of Veterans right now: Join VA. As the largest health care system in the U.S., the career opportunities are endless – and you’ll experience the fulfillment that comes with caring for the brave men and women who have served our country.