VA to drive clinical collaboration with social platform

VA to drive clinical collaboration with social platform

In an effort to more closely integrate the largest health care system in the United States, the Department of Veterans Affairs has picked Jive Software Inc., a provider of business-oriented social networking software, to build a collaboration platform to link clinicians across VA’s 1,700 health care facilities.

The VA envisions the network, dubbed VA Pulse, as an “engine to drive change,” strengthen relationships, improve access to information and integrate new applications into the department’s vast clinical workflows.

The choice of Jive to connect the 300,000-strong VA workforce comes just as new VA Secretary Robert McDonald announced a massive restructuring of the department following a scandal that has left thousands of veterans waiting for health care.

"This is going to be the “largest reorganization of the Department of Veterans Affairs since its establishment," McDonald promised.

In a performance work statement earlier this year, the VA said it was, “in the midst of a sweeping cultural change to fulfill its No. 1 strategic priority: to provide personalized, proactive, patient-driven care to veterans and their families.”

To facilitate that culture, the VA called for “services required to connect the VA clinical community in a business social network that strengthens relationships, improves access to information and delivers tailored solutions to practitioners that integrates seamlessly into their workflow.”

The VA has tested the Jive solution across 1,000 users to date and is in the process of rolling out VA Pulse to all of its employees over the next three years.

Jive said the software-as-a-service offering will allow physicians to connect rapidly, “so they can make the best decisions at the point of care.” In addition, the network will provide a way for users to search medical resources and share text, video and audio content across the agency.

By hosting interactive discussions on Jive, physicians will be able to consult with remote doctors in a more efficient and cost-effective manner.

The VA also sees Pulse as “connective tissue” for bringing in the next-generation mobile-optimized workforce, according to Jive. “The VA’s human capital function focuses today on recruitment and retention of the next generation of workers, millennials,” according to a recent company announcement.

“But the VA recognizes that it can’t successfully hire and engage these individuals with 1990s technology,” Jive said. “The anchor of VA Pulse is people and the latest mobile and collaboration tools. It supports personal networking and teamwork and offers many features that are already familiar to millennials.”

To fulfill those promises, the VA is looking to meet a set of state-of-the-art requirements for VA Pulse. In pre-solicitation documents filed this summer, it listed a number of desired features, including:

Communication:  The system will facilitate communication of best practices and innovative solutions. No matter the source of the original idea, the site will allow each communication to become a conversation, with the most valuable ideas and conversations rising to the top.

Collaboration:  Pulse will allow VA staff to collaborate with their peers and become a “marketplace of ideas to foster collaborative relationships among VA peers at facilities across the country.”

Usability: Users will have a simple interface to search for the ideas and practices previously uploaded to the site. Pulse will also give users the ability to comment and vote for or against topics to make the most highly rated items visible.

Engagement: The system will provide a way, through gamification or other catalysts, to encourage the user to become involved immediately and stay engaged long term.  The system will also support “badging” and other tactics for encouraging participation.

Tagging:  The system will let users attach keywords to enhance search capability. 

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