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 Anne Lord Bailey, PharmD, BCPS, Emerging Tech Clinical Specialist for VHA IE.
The boundary-breaking work transforming VA has never been more crucial to long-time VHA Innovators Network (iNET) Innovation Specialist, Dr. Anne Lord Bailey. Last year, her eldest brother, an Army National Guard Veteran, died by suicide. He spent 2013 deployed and, apart from his three children, was most proud of his service to his country.
“Because of who my brother was, I will forever be a better celebrator of life and laughter,” said Bailey, who has dedicated her career to finding and sharing resources, opportunities, and hope with Veterans. “I will be more radically generous, more prone to believe the best about people, and more likely to love without exception. Despite those qualities in him, qualities that are so common in our Veterans, he still felt like he had no other options.”
Bailey received her undergraduate degree from Columbia International University and has always been a change maker within her community. Before pursuing a doctorate in the field of pharmacy, Bailey spent time sharing her love of music with others and mentoring youth. After graduating from South Carolina College of Pharmacy in 2014, she began a residency at the Charles George VA Medical Center (VAMC) in Asheville, North Carolina.
“I had the privilege of doing clinical rotations in VA as a student and was so excited to be selected for a residency,” said Bailey. “Working with Veterans has been (and continues to be) one of the greatest honors of my life.”
Following her residency, Bailey specialized in caring for Veterans with Hepatitis C, a contagious liver disease impacting about three million people in the U.S. Veterans enrolled for care at VA have higher rates (5.4%) of Hepatitis C infection than the general U.S. population (1.8%). In 2017, while managing a $17 million budget and team of clinicians and support staff, Bailey became the number one prescriber of Hepatitis C medication across the VA nationwide. While exploring ways to reach more Veterans facing Hepatitis C, Bailey worked with her team to develop a mobile Hepatitis C Clinic, beginning her journey into health care innovation.
Bailey then brought her experience back to Charles George VAMC, jumping on the chance to become an Innovation Specialist for iNET. For two years, she supported “home grown” innovators while developing a local culture of innovation and collaboration.
“One of my favorite things as a mentor and coach is to help people recognize and then realize their true potential,” she said. “Working in VA and for Veterans, I’ve learned that—when it’s the right thing for Veterans and for VA—the answer is yes. Sometimes, getting to yes is a challenge, but it’s always a worthwhile journey.
“The work we do has never mattered more to me. If we can devote our lives to making sure no one else—no Veteran—feels like they are without hope, then we’ve found something worthwhile.”
Now Bailey works with the VHA IE team as an Emerging Tech Clinical Specialist, focusing on both collaboration pathways and the growth of the newly developed VHA Extended Reality (XR) Network, among other ventures aimed at transforming Veteran care. Since the official launch of the VHA XR Network in October 2020, the network has grown to over 220 frontline staff, representing more than 80 VA facilities. Bringing together her experience in collaboration and growing knowledge of XR in VHA, Bailey has helped launch multi-site pilots and initiatives that allow XR to expand its Veteran impact. She also recognizes that her role is to advocate and facilitate; without the avarice and ambition of VA’s frontline staff to provide the most forward-leaning care for Veterans, nothing truly great could happen.
“I’m grateful to get to do this work,” said Bailey. “I truly believe the possibilities are endless and that we have a solid team with vast potential. I can’t wait to see what’s next, and I love getting to be a part of it.”