by Allison Amrhein, Director of Operations, VHA Innovators Network and Communications lead for the VHA Innovation Ecosystem.
The Veterans Health Administration Innovation Ecosystem (VHA IE) Innovators Network’s (iNET’s) Greenhouse Initiative (Greenhouse) began last year because VHA IE saw time and again how outside partnership could benefit VA, private health care organizations and, most importantly, Veterans themselves. There was a need for a program that made partnering, working and developing innovations with VHA easy to do.
With that need filled, health care innovators have flocked to the Greenhouse, and the first three collaborations are now underway.
- Uzelink: The Uzelink mobile application promotes peace of mind for loved ones and independence for older adults by tracking user vitals and notifying caregivers or loved ones when there is a meaningful change in their health. iNET sites at the Edward Hines Jr. VA Hospital, Chillicothe VAMC, Charles George VAMC, and VA Palo Alto Health Care System are collaborating with Uzelink to conduct User Acceptance Testing (UAT) and collect end user feedback from VHA employees and Veteran volunteers on specific functions of the mobile app for improvements in future iterations.
- HermTac: Developed through the COVID-19 Maker Challenge, HermTac is collaborating through the Greenhouse to build and test its Tessellated Sanitization Stations. This solution uses concentrated UVC lighting and tessellated panels to sanitize medical tools quickly and safely. With prototypes of the sanitization boxes constructed in collaboration with HermTac and VA Minneapolis Adaptive Design and Engineering Program, VHA IE Extended Reality (XR) Network leadership at the Charles George VAMC in Asheville are currently testing the boxes on VR equipment.
- Unlimited Tomorrow: Unlimited Tomorrow (UT) has pioneered next-generation prosthetic arms and hands. Via the Greenhouse, UT will collaborate with frontline employees from the VA Salt Lake City Health Care System to develop technology to provide the yet most life-like alternate reality equine therapy experience for Veterans who have physical, mental, or distance obstacles to an in-person experience.
The Greenhouse was established to stimulate collaboration between outside health care innovators and the iNET community to co-create the future of health care for Veterans and for the nation at-large. With its first three collaborations officially underway, VHA employees and Veterans at iNET sites can get to work on growing the future.
“It’s incredibly humbling to work with VA employees to create new ideas and technology to give back to those who fought for our country,” says Easton LaChapelle, chief executive officer and founder of Unlimited Tomorrow. “Working with the VHA Innovation Ecosystem has been an incredible experience. Everyone we work with has a powerful passion for helping others and it’s an honor to work together.”
iNET’s Greenhouse provides the opportunity for iNET to further solidify its mission to empower frontline employees to innovate and participate in the process of innovation. Veterans will reap the benefits of Greenhouse-supported projects with innovative solutions better equipped to improve their specific needs.
Stayed tuned as we announce more Greenhouse collaborations soon. If you are a health care innovator looking to collaborate through Greenhouse, head to the Greenhouse Initiative webpage.
Allison Amrhein is the director of operations for the VHA Innovators Network and communications lead for the VHA Innovation Ecosystem.