Innovation at the VA continues to push boundaries of medicine

Eric Dehm
July 26, 2019 - 1:43 pm
A 3D printing of the VA Innovation Ecosystem logo at a conference in Chicago

Photo courtesy VHA Innovation Ecosystem

The VA has been at the forefront of medical innovation for nearly 100 years. The pacemaker, liver transplants and a special treatment for diabetes are part of a lengthy list dating back to 1925. 

While that's all well and good, we live in a "what have you done for me lately" culture. And as it turns out, the VA has continued to make strides in the medical field, and expects more big developments in the future, according to Dr. Ryan Vega, executive director of the Veterans Health Administration's "Innovation Ecosystem."  

VA Innovation Ecosystem members observe a demonstration of a new type of prosthetic leg sockets at MIT
Photo courtesy VHA Innovation Ecosystem

"We're leading a couple different initiatives in our strategic portfolio that I think are groundbreaking in the sense that they will transform healthcare delivery," Vega said during an appearance on Eye on Veterans. "The first one that comes to mind is 3D printing. 3D printing, in its applicability not only for pre-surgical planning but for adaptive prosthetics, orthotics, assistive technology, has immense potential to change the way that we deliver care." 

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And Vega believes the "Innovation Ecosystem" is the perfect incubator for the type of development on the ground level that can change the game. Vega says the Ecosystem is set up to assist, and not to micromanage, allowing ideas to grow organically.

"The challenging thing for any innovation, no matter what industry you're in, is bringing ideas to fruition," Vega said. "And so that's where we come in. We're not interested in saying who can do what and what the agenda should be. We're interested in really supporting these field, grassroots innovation efforts and helping these ideas come to fruition." 

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As Vega points out, the VA's storied past with innovation shows us every idea that does come to fruition has the capability of changing and saving lives. 

You can hear the full interview with VHA Innovation Ecosystem's Dr. Ryan Vega below 

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