Millions of Americans suffer from heart disease, and research suggests the risk of developing it may be even higher for Veterans.
That’s why VA is working to ensure that the cardiac care we offer Veterans stays on the cutting edge – with many of our innovative practices and programs coming directly from our own health care providers.
“In my experience working with employee innovators, their passion and drive is unparalleled. If we don’t harness as much of that enthusiasm as we possibly can to innovate within our healthcare system, we are truly missing out on unbelievable impact potential,” said Allison Amrhein, director of operations for the VHA Innovators Network.
This American Heart Month, we want to celebrate the pioneers who are discovering new ways to help VA better care for the heart health of America’s heroes.
Expanding cardiac telehealth
One of our innovators, Dr. Arash Harzand of the Atlanta VA Medical Center, is helping bring cardiac care closer to home for Veterans. Nearly 5 million Veterans live in rural areas, far from a VA cardiologist.
Dr. Harzand is working to expand telecardiology services, focusing on developing Veteran-facing technologies and constructing a centralized pathway to identify and evaluate virtual cardiac solutions.
For his work in digital cardiology, he has been named an Innovation Ecosystem Senior Innovation Fellow.
This is not Dr. Harzand’s first cardiac breakthrough either. As a research fellow, he developed a pilot of a smartphone-enabled cardiac rehabilitation program at the Atlanta VA Medical Center and was recognized as a Young Investigator by the American College of Cardiology in 2017.
Our Innovation Ecosystem supports and encourages trailblazers like Dr. Harzand. It gives frontline employees the resources they need to fully realize their groundbreaking ideas and projects. More than 25,000 employees have received training, and we’ve been able to impact the lives of more than one million Veterans, saving $40 million since 2015.
Another Innovation Ecosystem program aims to reduce heart failure hospital readmissions, which not only adversely affect quality of life for Veterans but come with a hefty price tag.
In a pilot study at multiple VA medical centers, Veterans are being monitored remotely with a small wearable sensor that can detect impending readmission for heart failure. It is far less invasive and less expensive than an implantable cardiac sensor.
LINK HF combines remote cardiac monitoring with a predictive analytics algorithm to collect patient data and generate clinical alerts. A clinical response algorithm suggests follow up actions including medication changes and outpatient assessments.
We hope to implement this technology beyond the clinical trial locations, as it has shown tremendous potential to improve heart failure care.
Work at VA
Are you a cardiac health care provider looking for an exciting opportunity to affect real change for your patients? Look no further than VA.
You’ll be encouraged to embrace new technologies, explore groundbreaking techniques and suggest improvements that make a difference for Veteran health care.