MITRExchange: A New Era of VA Innovation
The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) brought us nicotine patches, cardiac pacemakers, and many innovations in prosthetic limbs.
Could it also, in a 21st-century way, bring back house calls?
That’s part of the vision outlined by MITRE and VA panelists at the Feb. 27 MITRExchange, which was devoted to helping improve care for veterans. Dr. Carolyn Clancy, the VA’s deputy undersecretary for discovery, education, and affiliate networks, detailed the agency’s efforts to ensure all veterans—one-third of whom live in rural areas—have equal access to healthcare services. Long a challenge for the VA, reaching rural patients is being explored in several ways. One idea, for example, is to use virtual tumor boards—tech-powered gatherings of oncology team members to review progress on treatments and adjust as needed.
Jackie Wynn, MITRE vice president and Center for Veterans Enterprise Transformation director, said such innovation could bring healthcare closer to home.
The VA is focused on how veterans who want to can choose to receive care from home. “The demographics are changing. More veterans are younger and want the technology to come to them,” Wynn said.
Clancy discussed other ways in which the agency is acting in the spirit of the VA Mission Act. The act signed into law last year, aims to make it much easier for veterans to get care through the VA. Many promising ideas are being developed, such as precision oncology for certain types of cancers and advances in treating traumatic brain injuries.
But success will require a comprehensive effort across the healthcare community. That will require more and deeper partnerships to expedite crucial research.
“Innovation is about a new way of doing things … but it’s also about making sure we have the capability everywhere in our system,” Clancy said. “There is a long history of innovation at the VA.”
Rich Byrne, senior vice president of programs and technology, added: “Everybody in the company stands ready to support you in really helping veterans get the best healthcare they deserve.”
MITRExchange is a tech innovation event series, launched in November 2018.
—by Russell Woolard