IT Modernization and the Future-Focused Department of Veterans Affairs

By embracing COTS- and API-based solutions, the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) continues to be at the forefront of IT modernization amongst U.S. government agencies. The new Electronic Health Record Modernization (EHRM) program is a prime example, as the scheme is likely to play a huge part in transforming care delivery models as we know it.

As the VA looks to the future, Artificial Intelligence (AI), predictive medicine, robotics, and the Internet of Things (IoT) will also all play a critical role in supporting our nation’s heroes better, and may pave the way for other federal health agencies to drive their own mission successes.

COTS-Based Solutions Drive Better Care Delivery

There's a major shift happening in the federal healthcare arena, where cloud-based solutions, and the standardization around APIs, are offering a new IT frontier—and a transformation in care outcomes.

Along these lines, the VA has worked closely with industry providers that offer COTS-based solutions. The use of APIs has allowed for the rapid implementation of best-of-breed technologies, which will only increase in the future.

With regards to the VA EHRM program, most traditional EHRs are built to handle basic clinical workflows that support both inpatient and outpatient care models. The right COTS-based solutions can help provide more agility, and can adapt to more specific modalities of care for Veterans. This flexibility is what allows for the program’s success.

In addition, new and innovative identity and access management COTS-based solutions allow for flexible and customizable use cases for patients, partners, and government. Driven by cloud computing, these offerings allow VA healthcare providers to easily create secure, customized patient portal experiences. They also serve to accelerate time-to-value, supporting on-target, phased roll-out dates, as well as unifying the entire identity management workflow across all user populations, applications, and API’s.

This type of API-based infrastructure is designed for extensibility, and will accelerate the VA’s integrations across program apps and services—including integrations with leading EHR providers like Cerner, the main COTS vendor behind the EHRM program.

Implementation of the the New EHRM Program

Implementing a new modernized EHR system from the ground up is no small effort for the VA, especially when it comes to avoiding disruption to patient care and clinician workflows. By continuing to focus on a strategy rooted in human-centered design and API modernization, the VA is positioning itself to enjoy great success with EHRM, without sacrificing quality of care during the transition.

For example, with approximately 131 VistA instances across the VA, there has been an overwhelming need to promote interoperability and data availability to provide the Veteran a secure, modern, and holistic healthcare experience. A successful EHR modernization program demands the use and integration of today’s best-of-breed technologies across a variety of mission-critical functional demands.

A Future-Focused VA

In the private sector, healthcare IT modernization continues to accelerate at a rapid pace. The VA, in conjunction with it’s private sector care partners, is mission-focused to be at the forefront of transformative healthcare within government agencies. The nexus of this transformation is the adoption and implementation of best-of-breed technology.

The agency is already in route to providing a more predictive model of care. Examples include streamlining the VA’s clinical decision support care efforts that promote timely triage, care coordination, and discharge planning for complex patients. AI, IoT, Blockchain and even robotics all fall into the frontier the VA is entering into.

The COVID-19 pandemic has provided a viable case study for how any federal health agency can rapidly embrace virtual and telehealth solutions. Under this new normal, there will be a greater utilization of these types of non-traditional care delivery models by the VA.

Providing the best possible care for our nation’s heroes will always be paramount for the Department of Veterans Affairs. And to that end, the agency will continue to evolve and adapt, striving to provide more personalized and interactive care, while reducing risk and optimizing outcomes—and ultimately driving long-term mission success.

To learn more about the VA’s focus on the future, be sure to listen to our second podcast VA IT Modernization – Fed Health Identity Podcast (Part 2) interview with Dr. Himanhu Singh, Director of Medical Informatics at DSS, Inc., and Michael Giroux, Federal Healthcare Manager/Sales Manager at Okta.

With an 18-year career at the VA, Dr. Singh previously served in COO and Associate Director roles at the VA Ann Arbor Healthcare System and at the West Palm Beach VA Medical Center.

Missed our first episode? Check out VA IT Modernization – Fed Health Identity Podcast (Part 1) of this podcast series, where Dr. Singh and Michael Giroux discuss the role of IT modernization at the VA, and how key innovations can help both Veterans and VA clinicians.