The VA Innovation Initiative (VAi2) launched the 2012 “Industry Innovation Competition” today, inviting the private sector to design game-changing ways of solving some of the toughest challenges facing VA as it continues its pursuit of the very best for our Veterans. VAi2 is looking for innovations from not only established industry leaders, but also start-ups, non-profits, and academic institutions.
This is a great example of public-private collaboration. It shows that VA is serious about improving the care and services it provides to Veterans, regardless of whether the ideas come from within or outside of government. And it’s a real opportunity for innovators in the private sector to give back to the men and women who have sacrificed so much for our Nation.
This year’s competition focuses on four challenge areas:
- Redesign of the PTSD Treatment Experience: Many of our veterans are reluctant to seek mental health treatment due to the symptoms of PTSD. This topic area is designed to find innovative ways of redesigning the experience a Veteran encounters when considering, seeking, and undergoing PTSD treatment with the sole purpose of increasing the number of Veterans who get better from evidence-based PTSD care.
- Mobile Applications for eBenefits: The widespread use of smart phones by Veterans seeking to engage VA through mobile apps represents a significant challenge and opportunity for how VBA provides the best customer service to our Veterans. VBA and VAi2 envision a mobile app for eBenefits that allows Veterans to check the status of their claim, submit First Notice of Death, ask general questions, update their address, and change direct deposit information. All at the convenience of using their smart phone or tablet.
- Innovations in Prevention and Treatment of Pressure Ulcers: Studies have shown that painful and preventable pressure ulcers occur frequently – affecting nearly 40% of acute care patients across the country – and expensive, accounting for $11 billion per year in the U.S. for the costs of treatment. VA is committed to eliminating pressure ulcers. This year’s VAi2 competition targets this sector by seeking innovative ways of levering training, new forms of specialized care, and data collection and analytics.
- Maternity Continuity of Care: In 2010, VA received authority to cover the costs of post-delivery care for newborn children of Veterans receiving maternity care from VA. The “Maternity Tracker” is envisioned to help VHA provide new levels of continuity of care for the growing number of female Veterans receiving fee basis or contract maternity care outside of the VA system.
This is the third Industry Innovation Competition. As a result of the first two, which generated nearly 600 proposals from the private sector, 35 projects are currently underway as part of a broader innovation portfolio that includes 135 projects across multiple VA services.
Check out VAi2’s website to learn more about this competition and everything else VAi2 is doing for Veterans.
Jonah Czerwinski is Senior Advisor to the Secretary of Veterans Affairs and serves as Director of the VA Innovation Initiative at U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs