Face of InnoVAtion is a regular series from the VHA Innovation Ecosystem (VHA IE) focusing on VA employees who are working to change and save Veteran lives through innovation. This month meet Dr. Lindsay Riegler, Research Speech-Language Pathologist, Innovation Specialist, and Certified Brain Injury Specialist. She works at the Cincinnati VA Medical Center (VAMC) providing her expertise on a broad scale.
A career of boundary-breaking innovation has led Dr. Lindsay Riegler to helping other VA employees innovate as well. Named one of the VHA Innovators Network’s (iNET’s) three finalists for Innovation Specialist of the Year in 2020, Riegler understands that supporting VA frontline employees in developing creative solutions is key to forging the future of VA care. As an Innovation Specialist at the Cincinnati VAMC, Riegler fosters a culture of innovation throughout VA by empowering employees to develop their own innovative solutions to problems they experience firsthand.
“I am grateful to have the opportunity to learn from some of the world’s most innovative people in a meaningful way,” Riegler said. “The energy generated at VHA IE is palpable and one I wake up every day eager to absorb.”
Rigeler’s dynamic talents have led the way for her achievements in telehealth—an innovation VA leads the country in—making sure Veterans can access care when and where they need it. Her research includes numerous local and national presentations, grants, peer reviewed publications, and two co-authored book chapters.
Riegler has demonstrated a keen ability to work with her local employee innovators and Veterans via telehealth. VA telehealth technologies make it easier for Veterans to connect with a VA care team. Currently, Riegler helps in implementing remote temperature monitoring for the prevention of diabetic foot ulcers with Podimetrics. Keeping patients out of the hospital, remote temperature monitoring provides advanced Podimetrics SmartMats, in-home devices that Veterans can use daily, to remotely monitor temperatures on plantar surfaces of the foot for early detection of inflammation. The mats are now available to Veterans who are at the highest risk for amputation at 40 VA medical centers, with a plan for expansion. Data collected from participating sites suggests that the Podimetrics system results in a near elimination of all severe ulcers, use of an expensive graft product, and major amputations.
Riegler has enjoyed acting as principal investigator on two randomized clinical drug trials and was awarded the Mid-Career Research Scientist Award from the University of Cincinnati. Married 14 years and a mother of three, Riegler enjoys hiking, traveling, and indulging in sweets with her family.
“I think most people are surprised to learn VA supports an entire innovation-related portfolio,” Riegler said. “VA and the Department of Defense are the godfathers of innovation—from dry fit technology to the pacemaker, government has led the way.”
VHA IE continues this proud tradition, serving as a mechanism to catalyze innovation through employee-driven, Veteran-focused efforts that discover and spread best practices throughout the largest health care system in the country. As an innovation specialist and a leader in iNET, Riegler takes pride in leading innovators to the true understanding of the iNET mission: Designing solutions for Veterans and employees. Riegler has become adept in spreading the message and the stories of employee innovators. Innovators thrive using storytelling to show how their novel products are driving top-notch services within the largest integrated health care system in the U.S. Riegler, and the inspiration and creativity she spreads, represent the exciting stories yet to be told in the new chapter of VA innovation.