VA Shares Its Virtual Learning
Center with Other Agencies
Department of Veterans Affairs has produced an online database
with shared innovations, best practices, and lessons learned from
173 VA medical centers and 600 clinics. Now VA is sharing this
"Virtual Learning Center" web site with employees in other government
agencies. Reinventors across government can add their own best
practices or get ideas from VA innovations.
had an idea you felt convinced others could benefit from? Problem
solving techniques that could offer permanent solutions? Have
you ever found yourself stymied by a deadline dropped in your
lap today for a problem that needed resolution yesterday? Can't
get a straight answer to a simple question?
Nancy A.Thompson, Associate Director of the Veterans Hospital
Administration's Office of Special Projects, may have the answer.
She and a design team of over 40 VA employees created the Virtual
Learning Center. The design team started project work in August
1997. The VLC Intranet site was activated in December 1997 then
launched on to the Internet in June 1999. An idea envisioned four
years ago as an Intranet service specific to health care has evolved
into a virtual think tank, fluid in concept and without boundary.
Is a Virtual Learning Center?
is the Virtual Learning Center? VLC is a living think tank of
ideas, solutions and answers accessible from one web site source.
It's a "living" think tank because the input comes from you. No
single idea becomes static because each idea includes the author's
commercial phone and fax number, email address, with additional
comment and feedback options. It's simple to forward your own
ideas, contact the author, or add to the information resource.
Best of all, you maintain ownership of your posted ideas and thoughts!
produced a web site quantifying shared innovations, best practices,
and lessons learned from173 VA medical centers, and 600 clinics.
That information became accessible to VA employees via the Intranet
to the Veterans Health Administration. This met the challenge
issued in 1997 by the Veterans Health Administration Deputy Under
Secretary for Health, Dr.Thomas L. Garthwaite.
a step further, in June of 1999 the site expanded to include external
customers via the Internet, allowing nationwide and worldwide
healthcare organizations access.
ideas seem to spawn. The Veterans Benefit Administration and the
National Cemetery Administration saw opportunity to better serve
their customers. They have joined with VLC offering innovations
for best practices. Their accessibility and effort has greatly
improved service to their customers as well as cost savings to
Are the Benefits?
and immeasurable benefit to the VA has been "Patient Safety."
It's one of the features posted on the website. It allows the
sharing of lessons learned from adverse events, as well as proactive
actions aimed at preventing future occurrences. The emphasis has
been on root cause analyses, and consequent system redesigns to
prevent future reoccurrence. Put into equivalent terms: this system
of checks and balances forwarding the advancement of healthcare
range of diversity in subject matter is impressive. Without question
there is something for everyone. Problems and solutions found
under "New Lessons," offer subjects from "Delayed Adverse Reactions
to Contrast Media," "Accompanying Patients with Dementia," "Setting
the Stage for Learning," and "Training for Payroll Staff," to
name a few. Public Affairs, Management, Staff Training, and of
course Health Care -- issues any agency could benefit from.
Get Started! Try This Step-by-Step Site Tour
Do You Know if the Ideas Work?
the seed of change that makes a difference. How do you disseminate
ideas in criteria of value, uniqueness, effectiveness, and originality?
Following the example of the Army Medical Directorate Knowledge
Management site, VLC will be adding a "Best Practices" designation
to outstanding innovations. In addition, each innovation will
be rated with a "Five Star-type" system, which will allow users
to locate those lessons which excel in innovation, less expensive/cost
avoidance, faster services or processes, better services or processed,
risk reduction, satisfaction (internal and external). Criteria
are currently being developed for each rating factor. Lessons
no longer relevant will be archived. You access by achievement!
If Your Agency Wants Its Own Virtual Learning Center?
you prefer to help your agency develop your own Virtual Learning
Center, VA will help. "If you are developing your own site for
sharing informal knowledge," Dr. Thompson said, "we are happy
to share our experience with you."
what are you waiting for?
A. Thompson, PhD, FACHE, is Associate Director of the Veterans
Health Administration Office of Special Projects in Washington
DC. She is also the Regent for DC for the American Collage of
Healthcare Executives. She can be reached at: VHA Office of Special
Projects (OSP), 50 Irving St., NW, Washington, DC 20422, Phone
(202) 745-2200, Fax (202) 745- 8623, email: email@example.com.
you have any questions for the VLC Webmaster, she can be reached
Or, questions may be sent via the Feedback button on the bottom
of most Virtual Learning Center pages.
J. Zecca is the Public Affairs Coordinator for the United States
Coast Guard Vessel Traffic Service Puget Sound in Washington State.
Currently writing for Access
America E-Gov E-Zine, he can be reached at AZecca@aol.com.