The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) and the Veterans Health Administration (VHA) have developed a network of physicians, surgeons, and researchers to explore how 3D-printing can improve the lives of veterans. The network, named the 3D-Printing Advisory Committee, acts as an internal hub where agency staff can share information, expertise, and equipment as they each test their own 3D-printing ideas. Members of the committee have used 3D printing to rehearse operations, help patients understand their treatment options, and create custom braces for their patients. Beth Ripley, MD, PhD, who leads the advisory committee, told Nextgov that researchers are also making progress on 3D-printed prosthetic limbs.
The network has members at 23 VHA facilities, and it plans to add another ten sites by the end of 2019.
In 2016, the group received funding from the VHA Innovators Network, a program that offers grants to administration staff looking to test new healthcare processes and technologies. The grant allowed them to bring in more 3D-printing experts and pool their equipment and materials across the network, Ripley told Nextgov.