Diffusing Excellence Across VHA

VA Center (VACI) for Innovation Implementation and Support

Atlas Research is the leader in creating, developing, and supporting the Department of Veterans Affairs’ (VA) ongoing innovation efforts to advance the way our Government cares for Veterans. Through our work on the VA Innovators Network (VAIN) and the Diffusion of Excellence Initiative (DoE), Atlas has developed fully-integrated processes that help VA systematically and efficiently spread best practices.

By utilizing Atlas’ in-depth background in Large Scale Event Planning Logistics, Internal and External Communications, Stakeholder Engagement, Facilitated Implementation, Design Support, and Human Capital Development, VA is able to develop and support programs that successfully engage with a diverse and dispersed system. Atlas’ efforts create cultural and systematic change in a large, complicated ecosystem that touches the lives of millions.

Stakeholder Engagement

No project can succeed without belief and support from all involved, especially in an ecosystem as diverse and independent as VA’s. By implementing multiple strategies, Atlas was able to engage support for VACI programs across the VA system, bringing on board not just leadership but frontline staff, Veteran Service Organizations, private sector organizations, and other important stakeholders. Atlas supported a Senate hearing meeting, demonstrating the value of programs, such as the Diffusion of Excellence Initiative and VA Innovators Network, for Veterans across the nation.

By creating programs like Diffusion of Excellence, USH Shark Tank, and others from the ground up, working with stakeholders at all levels, and becoming an integral part of VACI’s network, Atlas brought together multiple teams to work toward the goal of innovation and advancement at VA. Through targeted internal discussions, strategic meetings, and an in-depth institutional knowledge, Atlas is able to turn VACI’s work into widely supported and popular programs. 

Internal and External Communication

VA’s innovation efforts are extensive and wide-ranging, requiring both internal and external communications to promote and engage stakeholders. Atlas helps VACI disseminate its programs to employees through internal communications support that provides content for internal websites, emails, and trainings. Through these internal communications efforts, both VACI’s Spark-Seed-Spread program and the Diffusion of Excellence Initiative have become wildly popular and successful, engaging more than 350,000 VA employees in the ongoing effort to improve VA.

Externally VA’s efforts in innovation are key to promoting the work the administration does every day to help Veterans. Atlas has developed multiple external communication campaigns for both VACI and Diffusion that include social media outreach, press and media support, video content, and website and blog content. Through this outreach, we have provided VA with creative content that delivers a positive story to the public and engaged directly with Veterans, their families, and VA’s stakeholders.

Organizational Change

At the core of Atlas’ work with VACI is the belief that our efforts can help change VA for the better. Shifting both cultural and structural dynamics at a large organization requires focused and dedicated work that Atlas delivers through innovative efforts and data-driven insights. By creating programs like Diffusion of Excellence, Atlas is able to implement organizational change from the ground up, engaging and supporting the field in their innovation efforts.

Our experienced organizational change management team works with VACI to identify and proactively address problem points within the system, taking key components of how VA works and adapting and evolving them into new processes that change VA for the better. These efforts include improved communication across the VA system, training for leadership on how to implement these programs, and resistance management plans that help motivate stubborn stakeholders. By leveraging our extensive organizational change expertise, Atlas is able to create change at VA that substantially improves it operations and support for Veterans.

Facilitated Implementation

Atlas supports promising practice implementations between VA facilities, in addition to national practice implementations across the enterprise. Atlas developed processes and mechanisms for systematically diffusing and implementing promising practices by adapting and replicating the practice using advanced technology tools and project management resources. Facilitated implementation support includes materials and content development, site visits to VA facilities across the country, and disseminating key information facility-based teams need to adapt practices at their facility. By minimizing negative variation and standardizing the promising practice, Atlas supports the execution of innovative and industry recognized promising practices throughout the system.

Human Capital Development

Atlas aids in building the innovation muscle at VA through bolstering human capital development programming. Supporting quarterly trainings and an Accelerator Bootcamp for innovation champions at VA medical centers across the country, Atlas offers logistical coordination, educational curriculum development and refinement, and onsite support. By actively garnering feedback from VA employees, Atlas provides strategic direction and develops invaluable tools and resources that spread innovation competencies across the VA health care system. Additionally, Atlas is developing a comprehensive fellowship program that engages innovative-minded employees, providing them with opportunities to enhance their skill sets and support colleagues who desire to drive the agency forward with innovation. Through the development of tailored educational opportunities, Atlas empowers frontline employees to provide the best possible care to Veterans.

Creative Design Solutions

Atlas provides comprehensive design support to help showcase innovation efforts across VA. Bringing a face to innovation at VA, Atlas developed full branding strategies for two innovative health programs. From developing marketing toolkits (including logos, fact sheets, posters, and digital signage), to creating videos to showcase VA promising practices, to designing the cover for Best Care Everywhere (a book co-authored by one our very own Atlas colleagues), Atlas provides an array of creative support to ensure all materials are informative and aesthetically pleasing.

Large-Scale Event Planning

Innovation flourishes when stories are shared. Each year, Atlas supports VA Innovation Demo Day, a day when VA innovators from across the nation convene to share their stories of implementing promising practices that improve the way VA serves Veterans. This year’s event featured over 90 promising practices and a welcome address from Secretary Dr. David Shulkin. More than 400 people attended the event. Atlas provided comprehensive logistical support, developed a breadth of communications collateral, designed event branding materials, and managed onsite needs. In tandem with VA Innovation Demo Day, Atlas organizes the Diffusion of Excellence Planning Summit, a time for frontline employees to develop detailed action plans for the implementation of promising practices at their facilities. Skilled facilitators from Atlas guide frontline employees through the development of tailored plans that allow employees to return to their facilities with the skills and confidence needed to make an impact on Veterans.

For more information on this project, see our project spotlight video: http://www.atlasresearch.us/content/project-spotlight-diffusion-best-practices