VA launches new innovation center

Based in Palo Alto, the VA hopes to use the area’s high-tech cred to make advances in health IT.
By Benjamin Harris
04:04 PM
VA launches new innovation center

With a mission of caring for thousands of patients across multiple facilities, the VA Palo Alto Health Care System (VAPAHCS) knows any innovation in care is worth it. Across 10 facilities that comprise almost 900 beds, VAPAHCS has the task of managing the care of 85,000 veterans, which means making the best of all that advanced health IT has to offer.

WHAT HAPPENED

Palo Alto’s gains will soon be the VA’s as a whole, too. The VA has recently launched a new National Center for Collaborative Healthcare Innovation (NCCHI) within VAPAHCS with a focus on developing these new areas in healthcare.

The Palo Alto system was chosen because of its proximity to the nation’s epicenter of tech innovation and an established history of collaboration with technology providers.

As a part of the Veterans Health Administration Innovation Ecosystem, the new center will focus on developments in clinical decision support, predictive analytics and establishing smooth, coordinated communication between all participants in the care process. Any discoveries are to be “efficiently shared throughout the VA enterprise,” the VA said.

WHY IT MATTERS

The VA serves thousands of patients across the nation, effectively making it one of the largest healthcare providers in the world.

Small advances in new technologies like artificial intelligence can lead to drastically improved patient experiences, improving the quality of care and helping to breathe new efficiencies into the massive system. The VA has been working to innovate in a number of IT-related areas with the goal of pushing new discoveries out across its broader ecosystem. In this light, NCCHI is another strategic investment in the advancement of care for the VA.

THE LARGER TREND

As more healthcare systems see the value of embracing newer IT-driven methods of practicing care, the VA has been bullish on many of their own innovations.

With everything from modernizing communications between specialists to a comprehensive health app, the system is making substantial investments in taking care into a new era. Many of the developments they are pursuing dovetail with other efforts, like personalizing care and making data analysis and treatment more targeted, meaning that innovations realized within the VA system will inevitably impact the broader healthcare community, as well.

ON THE RECORD

“The NCCHI is an important part of our strategy to be leaders in healthcare innovation and quality,” VA Secretary Robert Wilkie said. “The center is particularly exciting because it is uniquely designed as a catalyst to combine strengths from non-healthcare fields.”

Benjamin Harris is a Maine-based freelance writer and former new media producer for HIMSS Media.
Twitter: @BenzoHarris.