Employees Lead in Innovative Practices - North Florida/South Georgia Veterans Health System
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Employees Lead in Innovative Practices

Photo of two pharmacists

Pictured in photo from left: Pharmacists Andrew Franck and Andrew Hendrickson.

Monday, June 28, 2021

Employees at NF/SGVHS bring innovative practices to the forefront of patient care

By Melanie L. Thomas, MBA, Public Affairs Officer

The North Florida/South Georgia Veterans Health System (NF/SGVHS) is part of the Veterans Health Administration’s Innovators Network and is one of 36 sites across the country recognized as a national hub focused on improving care for Veterans using innovative and shareable practices. 

“The innovation program at NF/SGVHS provides an opportunity for every employee to get engaged in their work. It brings new ideas, tools, and experiences to their work setting with the goal of improving Veterans’ experiences,” said Julie Whitney, VHA’s 2020 Innovation Specialist of the Year. 

The innovation program not only assists with the spread of new ideas and practices at the local level, but helps with sharing innovation nationally, as well.

“The program is based on the Human Centered Design approach which is a problem solving, design-based discipline that quickly moves ideas from concept to prototype so that it can be tested with participants to see if it works,” said Whitney. 

Each year, the Innovation program at NF/SGVHS offers employees the opportunity to submit their ideas to a national Diffusion of Excellence Shark Tank competition. The competition shines a spotlight on employees who are passionate about solving some of the toughest challenges across VHA. 

This year, seven of NF/SGVHS’s projects have made it to the semifinals round.

One of the many innovative projects submitted was led by clinical pharmacy supervisor Dr. Jessica Franck who has helped establish a guideline-based tool for prescribing antidepressant medications to geriatric patients

“Some of these medications can pose safety risks such as confusion, agitation, delirium, falls, and cognitive decline. Incorporating a new tool that supports clinical decisions has enhanced overall patient safety in this instance,” said Franck. 

Franck’s work showed a statistically significant improvement in health outcomes that suggest that the implementation of the new tool works. 

Another one of Franck’s innovations that has led to positive health outcomes for Veterans was her work to create a new tool that supports clinical decisions for one of the most common preventable causes of death in hospitalized patients. 

The use of the new tool guides prescribers to guideline-based recommendations to reduce the probability of complications for patients at risk for venous thromboembolism – a potentially life-threatening condition that can occur during hospitalization. Read more here

Another NF/SGVHS innovator, clinical pharmacy specialist, Dr. Andrew Franck has conducted work to help reduce the harmful effects associated with overfeeding patients receiving nutrition intravenously. 

“Overfeeding is a potential risk for these patients, and the development of infections and other complications makes this initiative an important one,” said Franck.

Franck’s innovation has led to fewer cases of central line-associated bloodstream infections, and fewer instances of patients exhibiting high blood sugar, and liver dysfunction. Learn more.  

“The innovative work led by employees here at NF/SGVHS never seems to stop,” said Whitney. “I think it’s a testament to how we strive towards making our patient’s experience the best we can.”

About the North Florida/South Georgia Veterans Health System
NF/SGVHS is one of the nation’s leading VA healthcare systems employing more than 5,800 medical professionals and support staff dedicated to providing high quality care to Veterans residing throughout North Florida and South Georgia. The organization operates 14 facilities to include two medical centers located in Gainesville and Lake City, a domiciliary and clinics located throughout a 50-county service area. 

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