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GCN : November and December 2014
[BrieFing] The Department of Veterans Affairs seems intent on bolstering its reputa- tion as a services delivery agency and is using leading edge collaborative and e-learning technologies to help make that happen. Recently, in an effort to more closely integrate its health care system, the VA selected Jive Software Inc., a provider of business-oriented social network- ing software, to build a collaboration platform to link clinicians across VA's 1,700 health care facilities. The VA envisions the network, dubbed VA Pulse, as an "engine to drive change," strengthen relation- ships, improve access to information and integrate new applications into the department's vast clinical work ows. The choice of Jive to connect the 300,000-strong VA workforce comes just as new VA Secretary Robert Mc- Donald announced a massive restruc- turing of the department following a scandal that has left thousands of veterans waiting for health care. "This is going to be the "largest reorganization of the Department of Veterans Affairs since its establish- ment," McDonald promised. In a performance work statement earlier this year, the VA said it was, "in the midst of a sweeping cultural change to ful ll its No. 1 strategic priority: to provide personalized, proac- tive, patient-driven care to veterans and their families." Jive said the software-as-a-service offering will allow physicians to con- nect rapidly, "so they can make the best decisions at the point of care." In addition, the network will provide a way for users to search medical resources and share text, video and audio content across the agency. By hosting interactive discussions on Jive, physicians will be able to consult with remote doctors in a more ef cient and cost-effective manner. The VA also sees Pulse as "connec- tive tissue" for bringing in the next-gen- eration mobile-optimized workforce, ac- cording to Jive. "The VA's human capital function focuses today on recruitment and retention of the next generation of workers, millennials," according to a recent company announcement. To ful ll those promises, the VA is looking to meet a set of state-of-the-art requirements for VA Pulse. In pre-so- licitation documents led this summer, it listed a number of desired features, including support for communication of best practices and innovative solutions. "No matter the source of the original idea, the site will allow each communi- cation to become a conversation, with the most valuable ideas and conversa- tions rising to the top," it said. Users will have a simple interface to search for the ideas and practices previously uploaded to the site, the VA said. Pulse will also give users the abil- ity to comment and vote for or against topics to make the most highly rated items visible. The system will also provide a way, through gami cation or other cata- lysts, to encourage the user to become involved immediately and stay en- gaged long term. The system will also support "badging" and other tactics for encouraging participation.• VA looks to edge technologies as 'engines of change' The VA is also on the lookout for a contractor to upgrade a web-based classroom -- or virtual learning environment (VLE) -- for employees of the department's Chief Business Office of Purchased Care. The CBOPC manages ac- tivities that support the delivery of health care benefits for veterans. The CBOPC wants to improve its VLE capabilities to offer a web- based, hosted classroom platform to provide 24/7 access to informa- tion and foster training anywhere at any time. "It is critical that the VA sup- ports a culture where application of new skills acquired from a training event is transferred to the worksite. Linking learning to worksite per- formance requires a high degree of learner interactivity," according to the request for information. The chosen vendor will be expected to offer services that include maintaining the software on its server, maintaining sufficient bandwidth for uninterrupted work flow and providing full software maintenance. As the VA "puts forth efforts for recruiting and retaining the next generation of VA employees who possess a degree of technical competence, supporting and offer- ing web-based classroom training and e-learning will be critical to meet the learning needs and styles of future employees," said the RFI. In addition, the department is looking for a robust set of course management features, includ- ing the ability to create and edit courses, setting default course properties to use as a basis for new courses and interactive tools such as discussion boards, blogs and wikis. VA SEEKS BETTER TRAINING, E-LEARNING TOOLS. 12 GCN NOVEMBER/DECEMBER 2014 • GCN.COM