VA Innovators Network boot camp kicking off

From March 29–30 more than 40 VA innovators will be heading to Washington, DC to take part in the VA Center for Innovation’s Innovators Network’s boot camp. The boot camp, the second of its kind, is part of the Network’s Accelerator Program, and brings together VA caregivers and Veterans — who have implemented creative and innovative programs at their medical centers — for two days of intensive training on how to get their innovations developed and deployed across VA. The innovations tackle many of the challenges VA is facing today including Veteran suicide, access to care, employee engagement, and even Veteran employment. You can read about some of the more creative examples below.

Participants will pitch their practices to subject matter experts throughout the two day program and then receive training on how to best implement their program throughout VA. They’ll learn how to manage, promote and mentor their programs so that they succeed and grow in the complex and sometimes challenging VA system. The efforts begun at this boot camp don’t end here. Thanks to the Spark-Seed-Spread Innovation Funding Program the innovators present will have support, guidance and funding as they move forward through the Innovator Network’s Accelerator program. The end goal, of course, is to create the best possible experience for Veterans and their families at VA.

A few of the more than 40 VA Innovations at the VA Innovators Network Accelerator

iRest Yoga Nidra Meditation (Albany) — Albany Stratton VAMC’s use of yoga-based interventions is currently limited to behavioral health in the area of PTSD management by only 1 provider. The proposed innovation project involves training of key geriatric staff members in the research-based transformative practice of deep relaxation and meditation: iRest Yoga Nidra Meditation. This practice is being utilized within VHA, DOD and within community programs “to reduce the symptoms of PTDS, depression, anxiety, insomnia, chronic pain, while increasing heal, resiliency and well-being.” See link attached for additional details on this practice and the Integrative Restoration Institute (IRI).

Employee Integrative Health and Wellness Program (Atlanta) — Dr. David J. Shulkin, Undersecretary for Health, identified “Increased Employee Engagement” as one of his top five priorities and urged the VHA staff to identify ways to improve employee engagement by creatively addressing workforce challenges that hinder the “employee experience”. Our proof of concept design will explore the feasibility of utilizing a structured and comprehensive Employee Integrative Health and Wellness (e-IHAW) Program to improve employee experience and engagement by leveraging human capital resources, improving communication skills, sharing good news, celebrating excellent service and creating a work environment that promotes wellness, civility, psychological safety, collaboration, innovation and servant-leadership.

The Bike Share Entrepreneur Project (Chillicothe) — The “Bike Share Entrepreneur Project” has a twofold objective benefiting both the Veteran and the VA employee. Those benefits are summarized: 1) Partnering with the Small Business Administration, The Ohio State University South Development Centers, VA Center for Innovation and Chillicothe VA Medical Center, Veterans are provided an opportunity to engage and receive formal entrepreneurial instructions about how to set up and run their own business while receiving practical experience managing a bicycle share program at the Chillicothe VA Medical Center. 2) VA employees are provided an opportunity to engage in an alternative form of transportation, bicycle riding traveling from building to building while on the 308 acre VA campus, and also an opportunity to engage in bicycle riding for exercise, stress reduction and relaxation.

Using Virtual Reality to Improve PTSD Treatment at the Jackson VAMC (Jackson) — Posttraumatic Stress Disorder is a serious mental health condition facing approximately 1 in 5 Veterans. Prolonged Exposure therapy is a gold standard treatment for PTSD and involves helping Veterans gradually face feared situations (e.g., crowds, driving) as they move towards recovery. However, innovative strategies are required to make this therapy more effective, efficient and engaging. The aim of the current project is to improve Veteran engagement in PTSD treatment through the use of Virtual Reality (VR) technologies. As an immersive, fully sensory experience, VR offers a unique opportunity to help Veterans practice facing feared situations in a safe, supportive environment.

VA SmartHome Project- Tampa VA (Richmond) — The VA SmartHome Project seeks to maximize independence of the Veteran, reduce caregiver burden and improve quality of life through the use of a mobile application. This application provides prompts and reminders, schedule and medication management, activity monitoring, as well as reporting features.

3D Printing as Art Therapy and Voc Rehab (WRJ/Chillicothe Combined Application (White River Junction) — The overall objective of this concept is to integrate various aspects of 3D printing as integral parts of the recreational therapy and vocational rehab programs. Desk-top manufacturing offers a unique approach to translate one’s imagination into a physical form; be for a leisure activity or for marketing, and quickly cultivates an excitement and interest. This program thus may also create a post-treatment leisure activity aiding in continuous progress, and may even offer gainful employment to Veterans.

Cash for your stash: an opioid buyback program (White River Junction) — Prescription opioid misuse and abuse are preventable public health problems that affect all ages, all walks of life, and all genders. Our overall objective is to motivate patients to return unused prescription opioid pain pills to remove them from the community.