Q&A with VHA’s new Vice President, Research & Innovation, Dr. Sandra McKay
An important priority for VHA Home HealthCare (VHA) going forward is the elevation of our research and innovation programs. VHA has developed a transformational vision to advance and inspire improvements in home care through research and innovation. Dr. Sandra McKay was recently appointed to the inaugural position of Vice President, Research & Innovation to help bring this vision to life. After a few weeks in the role, we caught up with Sandra to ask about her plans to grow our Research and Innovation portfolio.
First of all, congratulations on your new role, Sandra! This is a significant development at VHA to establish an inaugural Vice President, Research & Innovation role. What does this signal to you about VHA’s commitment to this area?
Thank you – this is an exciting opportunity and significant responsibility to continue to shape and advance the academic mission at VHA. VHA has a long history of supporting research and innovation and this is just another example of the commitment to ensure VHA is evolving as an organization and leading with purpose. As you know, engaging in impactful work requires the support, understanding and cooperation of many colleagues including point of care staff as well as partners and clients and their families to be successful. Together, over many years, we have built a solid foundation and now we are excited to launch a renewed focus on research and innovation to drive change in our shifting health care landscape.
Can you tell us a little bit about your goals and vision for Research & Innovation at VHA?
I joined VHA in 2008 as a part-time member of the Client Services team supporting program design and evaluation. I couldn’t have known then that we were starting a journey to become trusted home care research partners helping to influence practice and system design. At that time, I wanted to help create a space at VHA where we could better understand, share, and highlight the amazing work that was happening. I wanted to shine a light on what we do, how we do it, and how we can be part of health system solutions. This role is really an extension of that original goal – to share broadly while working tirelessly, with passionate colleagues, to find solutions and make care better for clients and for providers.
What do you see as the benefits of having research and innovation working more closely together under your leadership?
Curiosity, creativity, discipline, and community are key elements to both research and innovation, and they are both driven by a shared sense of purpose and commitment to engage in challenging work to propel us towards something greater. Together, these complementary portfolios provide us with the diverse expertise to tackle questions with the most appropriate methods and tools – creating solutions that reflect the realities and values of VHA and home care. And, by bringing together research and innovation into a single portfolio, we create a focus and team energy that make VHA a fantastic place to work and grow.
Why are Research and Innovation so important to a home care organization and to VHA?
VHA’s research & innovation work is focused on helping develop improvements in clinical outcomes and patient and provider safety as well as innovative models of care to help drive system transformation. These efforts support our clients and their families, creating possibilities for more independence and promote safe and rewarding conditions for home care providers. The focus on research and innovation speaks to VHA’s commitment to continuous learning and to creating evidence-based solutions derived from structured experiments, innovations, and engagement.