Promoting Healthcare Innovations throughout VHA Network

The Veterans Health Administration (VHA) Innovation Ecosystem is an outcome-driven operating model that fosters new innovations and allows them to scale throughout the VHA, beyond any one team or health system. It empowers employees, builds trust within the Veteran community, and transforms VHA into a high-reliability organization driven by value-based principles.

To support the ongoing success of the Innovation Ecosystem, we provided VHA with strategy development, program and project management expertise, human-centered design, stakeholder engagement services, and enterprise-level organizational change management.

Through our forward-thinking design process, we guided VHA in integrating two programs for fostering and spreading innovative improvements – the Diffusion of Excellence Initiative and the VHA Innovators Network – under the VHA Innovation Ecosystem. We also provided policy support to facilitate the national rollout of practices selected through Ecosystem programs.

To assess success and impact of innovation diffusion at an enterprise-level, we designed a long-term strategy to enable the institutionalization of diffusion as an efficient mechanism for the identification and implementation of best practices, including incentives and performance requirements. In order to implement this strategy, we developed training materials focusing on developing innovation competencies to train Innovation Specialists.

We also built multiple transformative communications campaigns to raise awareness of the Ecosystem and how it is helping to drive innovation that is changing the lives of Veterans, caregivers, and employees.  For instance, we developed conference, event, and planning objectives to engage and motivate employees, build public support and trust, and enable industry adoption of VHA best practices. These campaigns included conference/event branding; product creation; stakeholder engagement; logo, template, banner, and graphics development; and hundreds of communications materials (e.g., speeches, presentations and templates).

In August 2018, the Ecosystem held its largest event– the VHA Innovation Experience. The event featured keynote speaker Toby Cosgrove, Executive Advisor for Healthcare and Life Science at Google Cloud and former President and CEO of the Cleveland clinic. It covered topics ranging from suicide prevention to mobile health technology. It also included demos from almost 100 frontline employees across VHA, where they showcased their efforts in innovation and transformation, and talks that showcased inspiring stories from employees.

We promoted and supported audience engagement at the event – and nationwide−through mainstream and social media platforms, including Twitter, Facebook, and YouTube. Twitter posts achieved a total of 48,900 impressions, with the event-specific hashtag #VHAIE reaching more than two million users through approximately 1,200 posts. We also supported VHA in achieving their goal of gaining online, print, and radio coverage across mainstream outlets, which included eight local news outlets, online, print, and radio coverage on Federal News Radio, FierceHealthcare, and Daily Nurse; and Veteran-specific outlets, including Connecting Vets and Task & Purpose. Additionally, we produced video footage of event sessions and topic-specific presentation tracks. The event was such a success that it is serving as a blueprint for future events aimed at fostering a culture of continuous learning across VHA.