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.