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Veterans Affairs

Creating a knowledge platform for improving healthcare


The Veterans Affairs (VA) needs a way to systematically identify and spread the adoption of proven clinical and administrative practices across its healthcare delivery network. We were brought in to build a knowledge management platform in order to achieve this important goal.

Doctors, administrators, and veteran patients interacting through digital panes.

The challenge

The VA operates the nation's largest healthcare system, called the Veterans Healthcare Administration (VHA). It consists of 150 medical centers and nearly 1,400 community-based outpatient clinics, community living centers, Vet centers, and domiciliary. Together these healthcare facilities, and the more than 53,000 licensed healthcare practitioners, provide comprehensive care to more than 8.3 million veterans each year.

When proven healthcare practices emerge in one or more of the VHA's operations, how do you systematically identify and spread the adoption of those across the VHA's healthcare delivery network? That's the challenge the VA has been facing, and an important one to solve given the life-saving implications.

The solution

In collaboration with Agile Six, we've been working with the VHA to address this challenge through the delivery of a knowledge management platform called the Diffusion Marketplace. The purpose of this platform is to empower VHA practitioners and other employees to identify and disseminate promising healthcare practices.

We've aligned our delivery approach to the VA's Digital Service Handbook. And focused our initial product strategy on figuring out how to design an experience that leads to the wider adoption of three life-saving and cost-saving practices (for example, rapid naloxone delivery). These practices have already been proven to work at small subset of the VHA's healthcare facilities.

After validating our primary design solution through extensive user research, we rapidly iterated toward the release of beta and production versions of the platform — with an initial collection of over 50 practices.

The results

  • Delivered an alpha version of the platform within two months
  • Launched a beta version with a small user base in the summer of 2019
  • Announced the platform to wider VHA audience in October 2019
  • Launched a production version in early 2020, with over 50 practices
  • Currently continuously improving the platform with plans to add hundreds of more practices