VA set to kick off third Innovation Initiative

By Eric Wicklund
09:54 AM

The Veterans’ Administration, long considered a leader in the use of telemedicine and mHealth to extend care to the nation’s veterans and their families, is calling for more innovative ideas.

The VA Innovation Initiative (VAi2), in its third year, is looking for ideas from employees, non-profits, academia and the private sector to help veterans access VA healthcare and benefits. The $50 million program is looking to improve the quality of healthcare services and reduce or control costs, as well as improve the VA’s operations.

According to VA officials, the initiative is targeting four areas of care:

  1. Maternity – The VA was authorized in 2010 to cover the cost of post-delivery care for children borne to veterans receiving VA maternity care. Federal officials now want to expand that service through The Maternity Tracker to continue care for the growing number of female veterans receiving care outside the VA system.
  2. PTSD – The VA is looking to redesign how it treats veterans for post-traumatic stress disorder, a condition for which veterans are often reluctant to seek treatment.
  3. e-Benefits – Federal officials are envisioning a mobile app that would enable veterans to check, via smartphone or tablet, the status of their benefits and any claims, submit First Notice of Death, update information, change direct deposit information and ask questions.
  4. Pressure ulcers – Federal officials are looking for new forms of specialized care, including data collection and analytics, to help care for veterans with pressure ulcers – and prevent them in the first place.

According to VA officials, nearly 600 ideas were submitted during the first two competitions, held in 2010 and 2011, and 37 of them have been developed into active projects. Among them is Sweetspot Diabetes Care, a project that allows diabetic veterans and their caregivers to monitor blood glucose levels via remote devices and manage their healthcare.

The deadline to submit concept papers is May 29; the VA will hold a webinar on Tuesday, April 10, to discuss the topics being highlighted this year. For more information, visit