In this week’s “Chats with the Chief” podcast, VHA chief of staff Jon Jensen sits down with Dr. Ryan Vega. As leader of the VA Office of Health Care Innovation and Learning, Vega supports health care innovations that will improve the treatment of Veterans in VA.

Innovation means taking risks

Vega notes that his own life experiences have helped him understand what it means to take calculated risks that ultimately led to big opportunities. To help VA do the same, he’s working to create the perfect environment for medical professionals at VA facilities to develop new treatments and procedures that will improve the care of Veterans across the United States.

“Innovation happens everywhere,” he said. “What VA has figured out a way to do is to systematically give an individual at the front line an opportunity so that their work doesn’t just change and save the lives at one VA but in fact at hospitals across America.”

Doing groundwork now for future innovations

Vega points to VA’s COVID-19 pandemic response as an example of how innovation made a huge difference.

He says the work to integrate VA medical centers, other facilities and research programs into the same system created a powerful network that allowed VA to respond to the pandemic nationally in a unified way. He notes that the work of unification “started a decade before the pandemic.”

As a result, when the pandemic hit, the infrastructure was already in place to create a VA-wide response – from 3D printing of nasal swabs to research into coronavirus to sharing information across the health care network.

That’s one reason VA encourages innovation, “So the VA health care system will be better prepared to handle unexpected challenges,” he added.

To hear more about Vega’s work and what he believes are some of the most exciting innovations on the horizon in VA, click here.

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7 Comments

  1. Frederick Kraft MD Col. US Army Ret. January 20, 2022 at 10:27 pm - Reply

    Get the VA Hospitals and Clinics to answer their Phones!!

  2. Frederick Kraft MD Col. US Army Ret. January 20, 2022 at 10:23 pm - Reply

    The Problem with the San Francisco VA and Santa Rosa VA clinic is that no one ever answers the phone!! Those Bone Heads that work at the White House Complaint Center Have no Leadership!… They won’t fix it.. Years of Robots telling Vets …”You are now caller #20″…You can NEVER get through!

  3. L. Williamson January 20, 2022 at 2:22 pm - Reply

    If “innovation at the VA” includes forcing the roll-out of the EMR being beta-tested at the Mann-Grandstaff VAMC in Spokane, WA is an indication of innovation then the VA and Veterans are in more trouble than can be imagined. This EMR is not appropriate for the VA and has caused incredible employee frustration in Spokane and has endangered the lives of Veterans with safety issues of failed prescription renewals and prescription issues as well as huge errors in medical records maintenance and transmission. This system is neither reliable nor transparent nor is it allowing the smooth transfer of essential medical information between the DoD and VAMC’s, nor between VAMC’s and community physicians. This is a creeping source of corruption that was never vetted, and there wasn’t any competitive bidding process. Veterans will be the victims of this flawed Electronic Medical Record (non-system).

    If “innovation at the VA” includes allowing nurse anesthetists to practice without physician-anesthesiologist supervision then Veterans are unwittingly again going to be the victims. Veterans overall have far more complicated medical histories and current/chronic problems than do non-Veterans. Physician support and supervision is essential to safe and best-practice management of the anesthesiology care provided to Veterans in surgery. Nurse-anesthetists are not independent practitioners. Errors, mistakes in anesthesiology have immediate and terminal results: death or brain death. These errors are not reversible. It is unfair to the nurse anesthetists as well as to the Veterans to promote allowance of independent practice by nurses in anesthesiology. Veterans are not given informed consent about this risky practice at the VA. Veterans must not be the test-subjects of budget-management by utilization of less costly mid-level practitioners without physician supervision and support.

  4. Jaime Concord January 12, 2022 at 11:31 pm - Reply

    Zzzzzzzzzzzzzzz………..Zzzzzzzzzzzzzzz

  5. bob niles January 12, 2022 at 8:39 pm - Reply

    please pay the doctors what the other hospitals in the area pays. In the last 5 years I have had 3 doctors and the last one only stayed a short time. I never got to see him because he left to soon. It’s been over 6 months without a replacement. I am happy with the service but the turnover to to great.

  6. STEPHAN T LARUE January 12, 2022 at 8:38 pm - Reply

    DR. RYAN VEGA YOU NEED TO INVESTIGATE BEFORE YOU TALK TO CHIEF OF STAFF VHA MR. JON JENSEN, THIS MAN ONLY CARES ABOUT HIS JOB NOT ONE IMPROVEMENT WITH VHA OR ANY ANGENCIES OF VHA. I WAS IN CONTACT WITH JON JENSEN EXPLAINING TO HIM THAT FORIEGN MEDICAL PROGRAM EMPLOYEES ARE ERASING AND DESTROYING VETERANS MEDICAL CLAIMS FROM THEIR COMPUTERS. THERE IS VA OIG INVESTIGATION GOING ON ABOUT THESE ISSUES, AND ALSO THE GENERAL COUNSEL TORT CLAIMS INVESTIGATION THAT ARE HAPPEN RIGHT NOW. THESE SERVICE CONNECTED VETERANS THAT LIVES IN A FORIEGN COUNTRY LIKE MEXICO, DEPEND ON THESE MEDICAL REIMBURSEMENTS FROM FMP. BUT MANY CLAIMS ARE BEING HELD UP AND THEIR COMMENTS ARE THEIR CLAIMS ARE NOT PENDING ON THE COMPUTERS, IF THERE MOT THERE THEN WHERE ARE THOSE CLAIMS THAT THESEE VETERANS SUBMITTED TO THEM BY FAX. THIS IS A CLEAR FEDERAL VIOLATIONS AGAINST THESE VETERANS. I AM CEO: VETERAN ADVOCATE SERVICES SOUTH OF THE BORDER

    • Kevin Clark January 19, 2022 at 7:34 pm - Reply

      On August 9th 2021. I fell while doing physical therapy. I received no medical care. I was just sent home. I went to patient advocate and was asked who sent me here. I am 63 years old. They don’t care about the patients/veterans. I am yet to here from top leadership.They care about job security.

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