VA Ann Arbor Healthcare System
VAAAHS – Championing Gold Status Innovations
ANN ARBOR – Every day, staff at the VA Ann Arbor Healthcare System (VAAAHS), go above and beyond to make sure Veterans get the care they earned and deserve. Sometimes, there are challenges – VAAAHS staff pride themselves on coming up with innovative solutions to break through those roadblocks. And sometimes, they have an opportunity to take advantage of solutions that have already been created so they have a quicker and proven path to better care for our nation’s Veterans.
VAAAHS has a unique opportunity to champion true change throughout the VHA healthcare system. They have been selected as a Promising Practice Champion Implementing Facility to co-create plans to adapt “Gold Status” innovations and practices with demonstrated results in other facilities so that they can be spread – or diffused – throughout VA to more rapidly serve Veterans and their families in the quest to transform VA into one of the best customer service organizations in the country.
Last November, VA Under Secretary of Health Dr. David Shulkin put a nation-wide call to VA Medical Centers to submit promising practices that improve access to care, care coordination, employee engagement, quality and safety for the Veterans they serve.
More than 250 innovations were submitted from VA employees across the country ranging from physicians to researchers to chaplains. These were narrowed to 20 finalists, who gave rapid-fire virtual pitches on January 29th to VA Medical Center leaders, in a format similar to that of the television show “Shark Tank.” The leaders committed resources to the innovations they wished to replicate or adapt at their medical center.
After researching the 20 promising practices up for bid, VAAAHS leadership decided which one(s) were most suited for VAAAHS based on established needs and potential for implementation. They decided on eScreening – to be implemented over the next couple weeks.
VAAAHS Champion Implementing Facility Fellow, Rob Whitehurst, already kicked off work with the VA San Diego Healthcare System to adapt and implement the eScreening Program. In early March, Gold Status Fellows and Champion Implementing Facilities met, along with VHA and industry leaders, for an intense two-day planning session to co-create an action plan.
“We are extremely pleased that we ‘won’ our bid to partner with VA San Diego Healthcare System to implement the eScreening Program,” said Whitehurst. “Although our healthcare system has always provided top notch health care services we’re always looking for areas of opportunity – we’re excited to utilize the VA Diffusion of Excellence initiative to spread and implement best practices to improve care for our nation’s Veterans.”
How will eScreening help VAAAHS, and the Veterans they serve? Development of the eScreening Program, a mobile technology that interfaces with the Computerized Patient Record System (CPRS), will yield immediate results by allowing patients in waiting areas to complete a standard pre-screening questionnaire on a mobile device provided by the facility while they wait – allowing them more time with their provider.
The system documents the patient’s answers directly into their CPRS record, and instantly alerts the clinical team of any immediate concerns so they can begin the appointment with the highest priority matter. The patient can also leave with a printout of the results of the screen. The entire process will lead to improved care coordination, business processes, Veteran satisfaction rates, and clinical impact.
The focus on diffusing innovations to improve Veterans’ experiences is part of a larger transformational initiative called MyVA, designed to modernize the VA system to better meet the needs of Veterans.
The sharing of innovations at VA continues through an interactive online community for housing and promoting best practice innovations, in addition to the VA Innovators Network and a leadership consortium that meets regularly to facilitate implementation. These practices, along with the many other submissions, will be featured in a book later this year called “Best Care Everywhere” published by Dr. Shulkin.
Those who work every day at VAAAHS, see the dedication employees share in serving our nation’s Veterans. We are excited to spread promising practices, and to contribute to the effort to infuse innovations within VA medical centers across our country so that Veterans have better, safer, and higher quality experiences every time they visit their VA.