In September, Airmen will be able to submit innovative health care ideas and existing health care system challenges to the Innovations Knowledge Exchange Web Portal, a new way for the Air Force Medical Service Innovations team to capture potential ideas.
The AFMS Innovations office already collaborates with medical institutes and universities to develop new technologies and methodologies to improve healthcare for the warfighter, but this portal will give individual Airmen a chance to voice their own opinions. While the Innovations Team is accustomed to having to put out calls for innovative projects to fund, the IEWP will provide a direct interface for submissions from researchers, practitioners, and patients.
“The goal is to start populating the Innovations portfolio with ideas received through the portal,” said Liz Jones, the Program Manager for AFMS Innovations.
“There’s a lot of great stuff going on and a lot of times people don’t know about it,” Jones said. She added the portal would “enable a way for people to communicate, to figure out what’s going on, and utilize what’s already in practice. Then ask, ‘How can we improve it?’.”
The IEWP is also being evaluated as a potential tool to support the Trusted Care system.
With the use of integrated discussion boards and connections to other communities of practice within the AFMS Knowledge Exchange (Kx); the plan is to get everyone talking about innovations and improvements in the AFMS. The portal will support an automated notification system that provides submitters status on their idea from submission to final approval for implementation.
Kelly Glessner, an Innovations portfolio manager, added, “Even if a project does not initially move forward it could find renewed purpose down the road.”
Glessner wants the portal to open people up to the concept that everyone’s ideas are important, and no one should be afraid of sharing. She said, “It’s not anonymity, but it gives you a layer of separation from having to explain your idea to somebody and talk about it. Hopefully it makes that process a little easier and it gets to everybody who might have their own ideas of how to do things rather than always being told.”
Ultimately, ideas brought up through the portal can help Innovations revolutionize the way the Air Force delivers healthcare. “While some of our research may sound like science fiction,” Jones said, “we are working to transform this research into reality. We find what works, what’s not so far out of reach, and figure out where it can be implemented and how we can take it to the next step.” The Innovations Program has funded research projects that range from a digital biobank housing genetic information to nanotechnologies. The IEWP will be incorporated into the Kx, which all Airmen have access to, and expand the scope of innovation to involve even greater ideas. When logging into the Kx, search “Innovations” and keep an eye on their portal page for more information.