Current Events

Title:These four innovations are changing and saving Veteran lives

Author:Matthew Razak

Date:Aprial 2020

Volume:Volume 3 Issue 165

VHA Innovation Ecosystem practices are recognized as some of the best innovations in health care

The Gears of Government award-winning VHA Innovation Ecosystem (VHA IE) works to support, develop, and organize VHA's innovation efforts in a quest to provide the best care for the Veterans we serve. Through portfolios like VHA Diffusion of Excellence and VHA Innovators Network, VHA IE has cultivated ideas and innovations from frontline employees across the nation's largest health care system.

While VHA IE supports hundreds of innovative practices, four of them were honored this year as Gears of Government Award winners. These programs have had a massive impact on the way health care for Veterans, and all of America, is being delivered.

"It is incredible to work alongside the talented front-line employees who are tackling the challenges Veterans and VA employees face," said Allison Amrhein, Director of Operations for the VHA Innovators Network, a portfolio of VHA IE. "We're excited to be recognized for the work we're doing to help Veterans."

Beth Ripley and the VHA 3D Printing Network

Beth Ripley has changed health care for Veterans. By helping establish the VHA 3D Printing Network the Senior Innovation Fellow, Radiologist and Chair of the VHA 3D Printing Advisory Committee has become a national thought leader and innovator in 3D Printing. Her vision to incorporate this technology into VHA with the goal of changing the way health care providers and patients understand and treat disease has resulted in numerous innovations that have impacted the lives of thousands of Veterans. To date the VHA 3D Printing Network has delivered personalized care to 1,000 Veterans through 3D printed pre-surgical planning models, assistive technology devices, orthotics, prosthetics and more. With the number of VHA medical facilities with 3D printing capabilities at 30 and growing, this technology is set to impact all 9 million Veterans that VA serves.

Emergence Delirium: Maintaining Veteran and Employee Safety

Local crisis management and anesthesia experts at VA Pittsburgh Healthcare System designed Emergence Delirium: Maintaining Veteran and Employee Safety for staff working in areas that use sedation.

Emergence Delirium is a post-anesthetic phenomenon that occurs immediately after emergence from general anesthesia. It's characterized by agitation, confusion and violent behavior. The three-part training is designed to provide the knowledge required for staff to identify Veterans most at risk for emergence delirium and the skills needed to prevent the dangerous behaviors that may result. The team has increased safety and reduced injuries in both Veterans and staff, with their training program now being mandatory.


VIONE has changed the way VA handles prescriptions by implementing a simple and user-friendly medication management methodology. It was developed by Dr. Saraswathy Battar, Associate Chief of Staff for Geriatrics and Extended Care Services at Central Arkansas Veterans Healthcare System, who saw a demand for deprescribing unneeded prescriptions in her facility. Dr. Battar worked through VHA IE to further spread her work, ensuring Veterans only take the medications they need. So far, it has successfully impacted the lives of over 77,000 Veterans by deprescribing 168,000 medications and yielding more than $5.8 million in annualized cost avoidance.


4-Sight, developed and implemented by a team from VISN 22, the Desert Pacific Healthcare Network, has made the process of getting eyeglasses for Veterans faster and more accurate. It also reduces costs for VA by automating an outdated system.

The practice was implemented at multiple sites through VHA Diffusion of Excellence and is now successfully established at 37 facilities and rolling out nationwide. 4-Sight expedited eyeglass delivery for more than 390,000 Veterans. It improves productivity so much that it allows for four full-time employees within the prosthetics department to focus their efforts on complex prosthetic limb orders rather than focus on tedious eyeglass ordering.

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