UMMS Affiliation

Quantitative Methods Core, Department of Population and Quantitative Health Sciences; Division of Health Informatics and Implementation Science, Department of Population and Quantitative Health Sciences

Publication Date


Document Type



Community-Based Research | Health Policy | Health Services Research | Military and Veterans Studies


BACKGROUND: Collaboration between researchers, implementers and policymakers improves uptake of health systems research. In 2018, researchers and VHA Innovators Network (iNET) leadership used an embedded research model to conduct an evaluation of iNET. We describe our evaluation design, early results, and lessons learned.

METHODS: This mixed-methods evaluation incorporated primary data collection via electronic survey, descriptive analysis using existing VA datasets (examining associations between facility characteristics and iNET participation), and qualitative interviews to support real-time program implementation and to probe perceived impacts, benefits and challenges of participation.

RESULTS: We developed reporting tools and collected data regarding site participation, providing iNET leadership rapid access to needed information on projects (e.g., target populations reached, milestones achieved, and barriers encountered). Secondary data analyses indicated iNET membership was greater among larger, more complex VA facilities. Of the 37 iNET member sites, over half (n = 22) did not have any of the six major types of VA research centers; thus iNET is supporting VA sites not traditionally served by research innovation pathways. Qualitative findings highlighted enhanced engagement and perceived value of social and informational networks.

CONCLUSIONS: Working alongside our iNET partners, we supported and influenced iNET's development through our embedded evaluation's preliminary findings. We also provided training and guidance aimed at building capacity among iNET participants.

IMPLICATIONS: Embedded research can yield successful collaborative efforts between researchers and partners. An embedded research team can help programs pivot to ensure effective use of limited resources. Such models inform program development and expansion, supporting strategic planning and demonstrating value.


health systems research, embedded research, Veterans Health Administration (VHA) Innovators Network

Rights and Permissions

© 2020 The Authors. Published by Elsevier Inc. This is an open access article under the CC BY-NC-ND license (

DOI of Published Version



Vashi AA, Orvek EA, Tuepker A, Jackson GL, Amrhein A, Cole B, Asch SM, Gifford AL, Lindquist J, Marshall NJ, Newell S, Smigelsky MA, White BS, White LK, Cutrona SL. The Veterans Health Administration (VHA) Innovators Network: Evaluation design, methods and lessons learned through an embedded research approach. Healthc (Amst). 2021 Jun;8 Suppl 1(Suppl 1):100477. doi: 10.1016/j.hjdsi.2020.100477. Epub 2021 Jun 23. PMID: 34175094; PMCID: PMC8244154. Link to article on publisher's site

Journal/Book/Conference Title

Healthcare (Amsterdam, Netherlands)

PubMed ID


Related Resources

Link to Article in PubMed

Creative Commons License

Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 4.0 License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 4.0 License.