The Greenhouse is a new opportunity for the health care innovation community outside of VA to collaborate directly with iNET sites throughout the country to design the innovative solutions of the future. In doing so, Greenhouse gives outside health care innovators access to the entire innovative force of iNET – a pool of engaged and equipped frontline health care professionals, millions of enthusiastic end users, Innovation Specialists, and much more.
“iNET’s Greenhouse initiative is a great opportunity for VA and early-stage health companies alike, a perfect alignment of incentives. VA brings the perspective and startups bring the know-how, together, we can codevelop the future of health care for Veterans and the nation at-large,” said Kit Teague, Director of the VHA Innovation Ecosystem.
The idea that frontline employees should play a major role in designing and developing the future of health care is not new to VA. Throughout its history, VA has leaned heavily on those from within to identify challenges and find an innovative way to solve them. COVID-19 has propelled the importance of frontline employee design further into the spotlight. More than ever, essential workers and frontline employees are being heard. Now, the health care innovation community is joining us, and the Greenhouse allows external innovators to utilize VA employees and Veterans for end user discovery and prototype feedback.
iNET’s mission is to empower employees to become intrapreneurs by identifying frontline challenges and designing solutions to solve them, utilizing human-centered design (HCD) and lean startup principles. With a network of end users and frontline staff at iNET sites throughout the country who want to help solve challenges and make health care better for all, VA is positioned perfectly to execute this mission. But we can do even more through collaboration.
The Greenhouse provides the health care innovation community a chance to collaborate with VHA, the largest health care system in the country, to:
- Conduct end user discovery and ideation.
- Share early-stage product designs for end-user feedback.
- Conduct small-scale product feasibility testing with appropriate end users and collect feedback.
The benefit to the external health care innovation community is multifarious. The demand for user experience tests and early-stage discovery and ideation with stakeholders is high. iNET provides access to a pool of engaged and equipped frontline health care professionals and millions of end users. More importantly, iNET’s Innovation Specialists – local innovation program and project leaders at VA sites across the country – will work as design project leads for Greenhouse collaborations.
For VA, the Greenhouse provides the opportunity for iNET to further solidify its mission to empower frontline employees to practice human-centered design theory to learn by doing. Most importantly, the Greenhouse puts the voice of the Veteran and VA into the innovative products of the future, some of which will inevitably be used within VA someday. This collaboration allows VA to organically design the products of the future with little or no financial investment and even less risk.
The application process is simple. External innovators seeking a Greenhouse collaboration can first apply and then pitch their problem or early-stage solution to iNET’s team of Innovation Specialists. These 40+ individuals throughout the country have their pulse on the challenges VHA faces and stakeholders they can tap into when joining forces with external collaborators. Innovation Specialists determine if a Greenhouse collaboration “match” will be made and who will then lead the collaboration effort from the VA-end.
To learn more about the process and apply to participate in the Greenhouse, potential external collaborators can head to the Greenhouse Initiative website. To learn more about iNET and the 600+ VHA employee innovators they have supported through the Spark-Seed-Spread Innovation Investment Program, visit the iNET webpage.