VA competition brings health care innovation

Wednesday - 2/9/2011, 9:31am EST

Jonah Czerwinski, director, VA Innovation Initiative

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By John Buckner
Federal News Radio

Four pilot projects at the Veterans Affairs Department were honored by the VA Innovation Initiative for developing new veterans health technologies.

The awards were given to:

  • mVisum - funds a pilot project at the Washington VA that enables health care providers to wirelessly review, share and respond to cardiology data on mobile devices.

  • Agilex Technologies - funds an alternative pilot project at the Washington VA that extends the functions of VA's electronic medical records.

  • MedRed - will field test software that lets health care providers share new and innovative ideas in treating Veterans with traumatic brain injury, also at the Washington VA.

  • Venture Gain - funds a project piloting the next generation of wearable sensors to help treat and prevent complications for patients diagnosed with heart failure.

VA held the competition under its Industry Innovation Competition.

Jonah Czerwinski, director of the Veterans Affairs Innovation Initiative (VAi2), said on the Federal Drive, "What we needed to do is turn to the industry, private sector, academia and non-profit community and say, 'Here is the problem we need to solve, the problems veterans need us to solve.' We don't know what the best way to solve this is but we believe you can help us think through this."

VA has held three competitions since early 2010. Each time, the VAi2 poses the question to industry around healthcare innovation, "What can you do?"

Instead of asking the participants to fix specific problems, Czerwinski said that just a few parameters are put in place.

"We want to be able to deliver this kind of value to the veteran and this kind of value to the taxpayer, and we are looking to really test these new thresholds of health care innovation," he said.

Czerwinski added that the announcement of the awards last week was important because innovation was a major aspect of President Obama's State of the Union address.

"As a department, we make a decision whether or not these are worth pursuing at a broader scale and broader deployment really depends on whether or not these pilots are successful," said Czerwinski. "After that, we can determine whether or not the veteran's needs are being met and whether or not as a department we are doing the best we can."

John Buckner is an intern with Federal News Radio.

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