Today we are highlighting two new technologies being tested in hopes of improving treatments for Veterans with heart problems or traumatic brain injury, both funded by the VA Innovation Initiative, or VAi2. These projects are the first to be awarded under the 2010 Industry Innovation Competition – but we’ll have more awards to announce soon.
Secretary Shinseki created VAi2 earlier this year as part of the broad transformation underway at VA. Our mission is to provide a transparent process for VA to identify and evaluate new ideas and new technologies in a structured way. When it comes to addressing our toughest challenges, we know that we don’t have all the answers. We get ideas both from our fellow employees (and believe me, with about 300,000 VA employees there are a lot of good ideas) and from outside VA – from industry, academia, and others. We’re particularly eager to use VAi2 to engage with new areas of industry that would not necessarily think of VA as a partner.
We’ll blog another time about the projects that have been launched through our employee competitions; today we’d like to talk about our most recent external competition. The 2010 Industry Innovation Competition invited industry and academia to apply their expertise and propose their best ideas to address six key challenges:
-Improving polytrauma care
-Preventing adverse drug events
-New models of dialysis care
-Enabling Veteran entrepreneurship through a business accelerator
-Deploying innovative housing solutions to reduce Veteran homelessness
The competition was open for 120 days, from June through September 2010. We received roughly 300 proposals from companies small and large, academic institutions, and new entrepreneurs. The selection process relied on a thorough and objective review by subject matter experts from VA, the Small Business Administration, Department of Defense, Department of Labor, and industry. We’ve been working hard with the more than two dozen selected proposals to turn them into pilot projects within VA that run from one to two years in duration with concrete milestones along the way.
Last week, Federal CTO Aneesh Chopra, announced these awards at an HHS event highlighting innovation in health care. The two awards announced were to two small firms, mVisum of Camden, NJ, and MedRed of Washington, DC and totaled nearly $7 million.
The project with mVisum, Inc. funds a pilot at the Washington D.C. VA Medical Center that permits health care providers to securely review, share and respond to cardiologic data on portable devices, increasing clinicians’ ability to respond quickly to patients suffering heart attacks.
The work with MedRed, LLC funds a project at the McGuire VA Medical Center’s Polytrauma Clinic in Richmond, Va., that tests a software tool to deploy decision support and standardized data gathering from brain injury treatments. The strategy is to allow sharing of rapidly evolving treatment guidelines at VA polytrauma centers and Department of Defense medical facilities, as well as patient progress and outcomes.
So what’s next for VAi2? Three things:
1. The hands-on work of implementing the innovations selected this year
2. The 2011 Industry Innovation Competition
3. The next Employee Innovation Competition
We’ll continue to work with the innovators from the 2010 competition to get projects rolling and we’ll monitor their progress over the next year or two as they complete pilot testing; we’ll evaluate outcomes to see if the solutions should be rolled out on a larger scale. We’re also working hard to define new topics for the 2011 Industry Competition, which will be announced in early 2011. We’ll also be looking for ways to continue to keep VA employees engaged. Watch our website for what’s new.
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