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Innovation at the VA

​A longstanding partnership between Veterans Administration (VA) faculty members associated with the University of Colorado Anschutz Medical Campus (Aurora, Colorado) and the University of Washington (Seattle, Washington) has resulted in the formation of a VA Center of Innovation (COIN)…one of only nineteen in the country.
This joint effort will focus on veterans-centered and value-driven care.
Michael Ho, MD, PhD, associate professor in the University of Colorado’s Department of Medicine’s Division of Cardiology and group director in Denver, emphasized the unique opportunities a national system such as the VA offers in researching innovations in the delivery of care, making operational changes and measuring the positive impact on relatively short timelines.

“This is an exciting direction for VA health services research in terms of trying to make research funding more directly relevant to the healthcare delivery system and to improve care of veterans,” Ho offers.
The new COIN will focus on two areas.
The first targets improving experiences of patients with complex chronic conditions in both their communities and healthcare settings.  It will use three approaches:
  • Improving patients’ self-management skills;
  • Improving health status and decision making using domains of palliative care;
  • Improving patient experiences through interventions at provider and healthcare system levels.
The second focus is to offer the highest quality of care at the best value to veterans with complex chronic conditions.  It will identify high value VA facilities and processes, compare the effectiveness of alternative high value care and develop new methods to quantify value.
The successful outcomes of the Denver-Seattle academic collaboration in both research and training goes back several years.  From 2009 to 2012, the combined group received funding for 15 research projects, generating $20 million per year in operating revenue and published a staggering 550 manuscripts.  This partnership also trained 31 post-doctoral fellows and garnered 10 career development awards.
The collaborative nature of the COIN group is one of the star elements in the program.  Faculty researchers from many different specialties participate in the development of high quality/high value care for veterans across the country.  The partnership also offers the opportunity for faculty mentoring across a variety of specialties.  Collaborating with another, established VA research center only adds to the depth of expertise available.

“The VA Centers of Innovation provide a truly unique structure in which health care services researchers can study a large health care system rather than individual divisional silos, understand where efficiencies can be gained or quality improved and effect change through well-established policy and operational relationships.  It is an ideal environment for a health services researcher,” said Cari Levy, MD, PhD, associate professor in the Division of Health Care Policy and Research and associate director of COIN, University of Colorado Department of Medicine.
Department of Medicine faculty participating in this COIN collaboration between the University of Colorado and the University of Washington:
Allan Prochazka, MD
Brendan Clark, MD
Cari Levy, MD, PhD
Daniel Bowles, MD
David Katz, MD
David Bekelman, MD
Evelyn Hutt, MD
John Rumsfeld, MD, PhD
Joseph Frank, MD
Liron Caplan, MD
Mark Navarro, MD
Michael Ho, MD, PhD
Paul Varosy, MD
Robert Burke, MD
Thomas Maddox, MD
Thomas Tsai, MD