Via the Dept. of Veteran Affairs
For the first time, AMVETS is partnering with the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) on a trailblazing competition that identifies and spreads health care innovations and best practices across VA. The Under Secretary for Health (USH) Shark Tank competition, inspired by ABC television’s Shark Tank, recognizes enterprising VA employees who are solving some of the department’s toughest challenges.
The USH Shark Tank Competition supports the VHA Diffusion of Excellence Initiative, which identifies and spreads innovations and best practices that promote positive outcomes for Veterans system-wide. The goal of the USH Shark Tank Competition is to identify promising practices that address VHA’s priorities of improving access, care coordination, employee engagement, quality and safety, and the Veteran experience.
“VA has a longstanding partnership with the AMVETS and other Veterans Service Organizations (VSO) related to improving Veteran access and support related to VA benefits and services,” explains Dr. Poonam L. Alaigh, VA’s Acting Under Secretary for Health. “Their knowledge will help us identify better and more promising health care solutions.”
The USH Third Shark Tank Competition solicited promising practices from front line VHA employees throughout the nation. During the first round of evaluation, winners from prior USH Shark Tank competitions, Medical Center and Veteran Integrated Service Network (VISN) Directors, and other subject matter experts from the field will evaluate the applications and recommend approximately 100 Semifinalists. During the second round of evaluation, VHA program office and VSOs leaders will evaluate the semifinalists and recommend finalists to proceed to the third USH virtual Shark Tank competition. The evaluator’s feedback and scores will assist VHA leaders in selecting approximately 20 finalists. At the USH Third Shark Tank Competition, Finalists will pitch their promising practices to Medical Center and VISN Director “Sharks”, who will bid resources to the practice, hoping their improvements will be selected as “Gold Status” practices and adopted nationwide.
“AMVETS has a proud history of assisting Veterans and sponsoring programs that serve our country and its citizens,” said Joseph R. Chenelly, AMVETS’s executive director. “We’re pleased to work with VA to increase innovation within its health care system.”
In the first two USH Shark Tank Competitions, the evaluators included VHA leaders, as well as clinicians and staff from facilities across VHA. For the USH Third Shark Tank Competition, AMVETS leaders will serve as Evaluators, along with representatives from five other VSOs.
“VHA is proud to have VSO partners on the evaluators panel,” said Dr. Shereef M. Elnahal, Assistant Deputy Under Secretary of Health for Quality, Safety, and Value. “We know they will use their experience to identify promising solutions that offer unique value to Veterans and their families.”
A Practice awarded “Gold Status” will proceed with implementation in the winning Shark’s facility or VISN, improving the system from the ground up. An employee recognized as a “Gold Status” Fellow, spend the subsequent six months guiding other the winning Shark’s facility or VISN in adapting and implementing the Gold Status practice.
Already, VHA is implementing more than 400 Diffusion of Excellence program replications at more than 70 of its health care facilities. Previous “Gold Status” practices have ranged from efforts to increase the availability of an opioid overdose treatment among clinical and community partners, to increasing wound care access for rural Veterans through telehealth, to a new way for VA physicians to review specialty care requests as soon as they are made.
Presentations for the next national “Shark Tank’ competition will take place in June. AMVETS and other service organizations have already been given sets of promising practice proposals to review.