This feature showcases one video each Friday that captures the essence of innovation, technology and new ideas happening in government today.

This week’s video is courtesy of the Department of Veterans Affairs.

Description: Today’s veterans face numerous obstacles in their path of attaining a college degree, ranging from missing camaraderie to a lack of understanding by university students and faculty. However, a partnership between the Department of Veterans Affairs and the Student Veterans of America seeks to help.

The Veterans Integration To Academic Leadership program, or VITAL, is a program hosted by the VA that works to help Veterans in the transition from life on the field to life on a college campus. The program, currently in place at over 50 U.S. colleges, matches VA offices with their local colleges to help student veterans have better access to the benefits and support provided by the agency.

Healthcare is experiencing an unprecedented transformation.

Motivated by the need to meet new regulatory requirements in the U.S., including the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA), and to receive incentives from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act’s (ARRA’s) Health Information Technology for Economic and Clinical Health (HITECH) provision, many healthcare providers are investing to modernize their legacy IT infrastructure and clinical applications. In addition to meeting compliance issues, these early adopters are discovering numerous advantages from their investment in IT – not only in cost savings, but also in improved patient care, tightened information security, advanced collaboration, increased transparency and trackability, and ‘connected care.’ Keep reading →

American companies and industry organizations are ramping up efforts that began last year to help employ returning veterans and meet growing IT workforce needs.

Private training and mentoring programs are bridging the knowledge and training gaps for veterans as federal agencies begin to process the influx of veterans returning from Afghanistan and Iraq. Private efforts aimed at training for private industry and government jobs are also in response to President Barack Obama’s call last year for American firms and associations to help 100,000 veterans re-enter the workforce by the end of 2013. Keep reading →

As Designers could be given an opportunity to build an app and participate in potentially life-saving projects through the White House’s latest contest seeking the best and brightest talent to help further technological innovation in the federal government.

As our colleagues at AOL’s TechCrunch report, candidates are invited to join the White House’s Health Design Challenge to give the electronic medical record a much-needed redesign. Right now it’s “an abomination” – all courier font and hard to read. The challenge winner gets $25K and their design rolled out to 6 million VA patients and open sourced for all the world’s doctors. Keep reading →

This is one in a series of articles about innovation at the Department of Veterans Affairs and part of a larger series on innovation at agencies across the federal government.

A mobile app originally developed to aid veterans has been offered to mental health personnel helping Hurricane Sandy’s victims, an example of how innovation and technology within the federal government can have a broader reach than ever before. Keep reading →

This is the first in a series of articles about innovation at the Department of Veterans Affairs.

A collaborative effort to combine data previously scattered across multiple federal agencies has led to a single portal where veterans can access key benefits. Keep reading →

What began as a simple way to help veterans view their personal health information over the Internet is continuing to snowball into an electronic health record phenomena known as the Blue Button, now used by more than a million patients nationally and gaining wider adoption by certain health care providers.

The Blue Button is a simple piece of software code that the Department of Veteran Affairs developed two years ago, that lets veterans obtain a copy of their medical information electronically.

VA and health industry officials are now exploring ways to expand its adoption, as well as the types of information patients can access.

At a recently concluded consumer health IT summit, Peter Levin, chief technology officer for the VA described how the Blue Button got started and the impact it has had since in serving veterans.

But he and Dr. Farzad Mostashari, who leads the Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology, also highlighted their vision to grow Blue Button’s user base from “from one million to 10 million to 100 million to the entire country.”

“We want to turn the Blue Button from a noun, to a verb,” said Levin, to a “thing that you do…when you see the Blue Button, you know…you’re going to get your health information.”

Mostashari said he expects immunization records to be accessible via Blue Button in the coming weeks.

But he and Levin said they hope to avoid having distinct types of records added individually.

“You don’t want to do this one at a time,” said Levin. “You’d like to have a methodical way, of not just (adding information) inside government, but most important of all, is doing it outside of government.”

Looking ahead, Mostashari said that it is also important to ensure two things happen:

“First, making the information more usable. But not only making sure that its always human readable, for the patient and the family to have immediate access to the information, but also making it machine readable so developers can develop new tools and services.”

Dr. Barclay Butler, Director, DOD/VA Interagency Program Office

Since rebooting efforts nearly a year ago to merge their electronic health care management and record keeping systems, the Defense Department and the Department of Veterans Affairs have made what top officials described as considerable progress after the program was in danger of slipping its schedule. Keep reading →

It’s been a year since the Obama Administration launched a major veteran hiring initiative calling on private industry to partner in an effort to secure employment for military families.

The effort — which has involved the Department of Veterans Affairs and the expanding role of IT in federal agencies — has since resulted in job opportunities for more than 125,000 veterans and their spouses. Keep reading →

Dr. Stephan Fihn is sitting on the edge of a revolution at the Department of Veterans Affairs, where big data is becoming easily accessible for clinicians and analysts throughout its 160 hospitals.

Fihn (pictured above) is director of Business Intelligence and Analytics for the Veterans Health Administration and a practicing physician at the VA Puget Sound Health Care System in Seattle, where he is helping to develop as well as benefiting from the VA’s big data warehouse. Keep reading →

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