“Shark Tank” evaluators to identify new opportunities and best practices
Paralyzed Veterans of America (Paralyzed Veterans) is taking a new approach to collaboration by participating in a Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) competition intended to identify and share health care innovations and best practices across VA. Inspired by ABC television's Shark Tank, Acting Under Secretary for Health (USH) Dr. Poonam L. Alaigh will utilize the competition to recognize enterprising VA employees who are solving some of the department's toughest challenges.
According to the VA, the USH Shark Tank Competition will support 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. Paralyzed Veterans’ leadership will participate as one of the “sharks” to evaluate the ideas put forward, and consider them from the point of view of the most catastrophically injured contingent of veterans.
"Paralyzed Veterans of America’s mission keystone is the quality health care that our veteran members and veterans with spinal cord injury or disease (SCI/D) receive," said National President Al Kovach, Jr. "We have full-time doctors and nurses on staff who work with a committee comprised of paralyzed veterans’ members to evaluate the treatment and specialized services received at the VA SCI/D centers. We’re interested in using that expert perspective to continue our collaboration with the VA and increase innovation in these areas and others."
“VA has a longstanding partnership with the Paralyzed Veterans of America and other Veterans Service Organizations (VSO) related to improving Veteran access and support related to VA benefits and services," added Dr. Alaigh. "Their knowledge will help us identify better and more promising health care solutions."
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, Paralyzed Veterans’ leaders will serve as evaluators, along with representatives from five other VSOs. The USH Third Shark Tank Competition has already solicited practices from front line VHA employees throughout the nation.
"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. Employees recognized as "Gold Status" Fellows, will spend the subsequent six months guiding other the winning Shark's facility or VISN in adapting and implementing the Gold Status practice.
VHA is already 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.
“Bringing innovation and new ideas to veterans health care is a positive step forward for our veterans. It may be a competition, but if the end result is improved care and treatment for veterans, everyone wins,” concluded Kovach.
Presentations for the next national "Shark Tank' competition will take place in June 2017. Paralyzed Veterans and other participants have already been given sets of promising practice proposals to evaluate.
Paralyzed Veterans of America, published originally on April 27, 2017.