As the nation continues to deal with COVID-19, the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs has grown its use of its "Innovation Ecosystem" to take local ideas and develop them into national programs to fight COVID-19.
“We created a network to bring together VA networks to help ensure solutions developed at one VA medical center have the potential to impact veterans from Florida to Alaska," Dr. Ryan Vega of the VA said.
Through the Innovation Ecosystem, VA medical centers have worked together to share their technology.
What started out as advances in 3D printing, that took a medical scan and turned it into a 3D image, turned into more because of COVID-19.
“I can take that image, send it to a 3D printer and take it for a patient’s anatomy," Dr. Vega said. “This technology allowed us to manufacture necessary equipment, PPE, even testing devices during the pandemic.”
The department then shared those designs with the public.
“Nearly a million different products were manufactured and distributed to those in need across the country," Dr. Vega said.
The VA's printing network encompassed more than 30 VA sites.
Throughout the pandemic, though, the VA has worked on more than 3D printing. The department also worked to supply diabetic veterans with mats that use thermal imaging to detect diabetic foot ulcers up to five weeks sooner than before.
They expanded their ride share program that usually takes veterans to medical appointments, and pushed it into the food and medical delivery industry during the pandemic for those at higher risk of contracting COVID-19.
You can find more information on the Department of Veteran's Affairs website.