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Department of Veterans Affairs

DiMe and VHA Release The Playbook: Digital Healthcare Edition

Boston, MA, August 2, 2022 – Today, the Digital Medicine Society (DiMe) and the Veterans Health Administration (VHA) launched The Playbook: Digital Healthcare Edition, the essential guide to successfully employing digital health solutions to improve the lives of patients and the people who care for them. Leveraging lessons learned from innovation success at VHA, the largest integrated health system in the U.S., this new playbook provides practical information, concrete case studies, and key digital health tools that healthcare leaders, decision makers, and innovators can start using today to address the pressing and persistent challenges in care delivery that continue to challenge health systems today. 

According to the American Medical Association, we can expect a shortage of between 17,800 and 48,000 primary care physicians by 2034. The Bureau of Labor Statistics estimate 1.1 million additional registered nurses will be needed by 2030. Beyond workforce issues, 99 percent of hospitals surveyed said they were facing supply chain challenges, including the inability to secure items or price increases. And the threat of new players in the healthcare delivery space looking to disrupt the use of traditional healthcare approaches is making waves across the industry. 

Simultaneously, prolific investment into digital health solutions has created a crowded marketplace of digital solutions. Healthcare innovators and decision makers are under enormous pressure to deliver innovative solutions with very little guidance on “what good looks like.” The Playbook: Digital Healthcare Edition offers a plan for how health systems can navigate these challenges, choose the right digital health solutions, and implement them to improve access, add efficiencies, boost effectiveness, and achieve equity in care. 

“We have had the privilege of partnering with VHA to implement a broad array of high-value, successful digital innovation strategies that have improved the lives of Veterans and the people who care for them. The VHA’s willingness to codify their knowledge, best practices, and success into this open-access guide to support healthcare innovators across the country is a reflection oits leadership in innovation and relentless focus on improving people’s lives,” says Jennifer Goldsack, CEO of DiMe. “The Playbook: Digital Healthcare Edition showcases the best of digital innovation combining the expertise of the DiMe community with lessons learned from  success in practice at the largest integrated healthcare system. Every leader, decision maker, and healthcare innovator should be referencing this guide daily.”

“I’m excited by the ways technology could improve health care for Veterans like me,” says Michael Borges, Veteran Patient, Retired U.S. Airforce. “I’m proud to see the VHA push the boundaries of innovation and lead the development of digital health solutions. This will not only serve me and the 9 million Veterans that receive care from VHA, but also set an example for hospitals and health systems across the country”. 

The Playbook is a signature set of guides from DiMe offering solutions to critical topics facing health systems. Its first Edition was focused on Digital Clinical Measures. DiMe is not only committed to creating and disseminating new digital health approaches and tools, but also sharing user experiences with the broader community. We encourage users of The Playbook: Digital Healthcare Edition to contribute to Dime’s Resources in Action Hub by sharing how you are using resources to redefine healthcare and improve lives.

About the Digital Medicine Society: DiMe is a global non-profit and the professional home for all members of the digital medicine community. Together, we tackle the toughest digital medicine challenges, develop clinical-quality resources on a technology timeline, and deliver these actionable resources to the field via open-source channels and educational programs. Join us to advance the ethical, effective, equitable, and safe use of digital medicine to redefine healthcare and improve lives.


VA partners with the Digital Medicine Society (DiMe) to advance digital innovation

On the heels of a collaboration with Google-owned Fitbit, America’s largest healthcare system and DiMe aim to “operationalize” digital innovation

Boston, MA – March 15, 2021 — The Digital Medicine Society (DiMe), the professional society for digital health, and the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) are partnering to develop a consistent approach to successfully deploying digital-health technologies at scale.

The VA oversees the Veterans Health Administration (VHA) which, with more than 300,000 employees across 1,200 facilities, is America’s largest integrated healthcare system.

While blazing new trails might seem tough for an organization of its size, in 2021 the VHA has been making major moves in digital-health: just a few weeks after joining with Fitbit to provide 10,000 veterans with free memberships, the organization is further expanding its efforts with the new collaboration with DiMe, which organizers say will “operationalize the innovation” of digital technologies for veterans.

Digital technologies have obviously become essential tools for healthcare services during the pandemic. But studies have shown that Veterans older than 45, as well as those in rural areas, are much less likely to use services like telehealth. If doctors cannot check up with patients via video visits, their illnesses and pre-existing conditions can fester and worsen. This is especially dangerous during recent winter spikes in cases: in fact, one-quarter of all COVID-19 deaths among veterans happened just in the past month.

The effort is being led by the VHA’s Innovation Ecosystem in conjunction with DiMe, which works closely with collaborators at organizations like the NIH and FDA to help advance the safe, effective, ethical, and equitable use of digital technologies in healthcare.

Imagine, for example, if information about a veteran’s prescriptions, chronic conditions and mental-health records could be paired with FitBit’s day-to-day data on things like sleep patterns, heart rate and blood-oxygen levels.

“If you have a veteran who’s been sleeping poorly and whose breathing rate has increased, having all that data at your fingertips could help trigger targeted outreach to establish whether there is a specific medical issue at play,” says Jennifer Goldsack, executive director of DiMe. “By securely connecting digital data streams with information in the veteran’s medical record, the hope is to be able to provide a more cohesive and holistic form of healthcare – and one that’s available to all regardless of health status, place, or demographics.”

The VHA Innovation Ecosystem is committed to accelerating healthcare’s slow pace of digital transformation by addressing the lack of a standard model for operationalizing and scaling innovation.

“Our goal is to provide interdisciplinary expertise and insights to the VA as they continue to foster an environment that’s conducive to innovation,” said Smit Patel, director of digital medicine. “Together, we expect to improve care for millions of veterans while developing a model for operating and scaling innovation across the country.”

The VA will get input from DiMe as they pursue specific digital implementation and quality improvement initiatives to inform the development of a robust conceptual framework for evaluating prospective digital health solutions, focusing on identifying those solutions that can be effective at scale and that promote health equity.

The next step for this collaboration is to review veteran feedback about their healthcare pain points and priorities, using those insights to build the innovation infrastructure needed to place veterans at the center of their care.

“It’s an honor for DiMe to work with the VA to keep pace with the evolving healthcare needs of veterans,” says Goldsack. “We are committed to improving the lives of veterans and look forward to sharing lessons learned to other U.S. healthcare systems.”

About the Digital Medicine Society

The Digital Medicine Society (DiMe) is the professional organization for experts from all disciplines comprising the diverse field of digital medicine. Together, we drive scientific progress and broad acceptance of digital medicine to enhance public health. From regulators to white-hat hackers, ethicists to engineers, and clinicians to citizen scientists, we are a communityat the intersection of the global healthcare and technology communities dedicated to advancing digital medicine to optimize human health.

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