The US Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) has launched a new effort to engage health information technology (IT) developers by making standards-based application programming interfaces (APIs) available. The agency plans for the APIs to power the “next generation of Blue Button features,” according to a statement. The APIs are designed to aid developers in the creation of tools to improve interoperability, access to electronic health record (EHR) data, and the exchange of health data for veterans and providers.
The VA’s API Documentation web page has information on several current API offerings. The health information APIs available support industry standards, such as Fast Healthcare Interoperability Resources (FHIR) standards. “The application of this technology means our Veterans can use third-party digital tools to do things like view their medical records, schedule an appointment, verify their Veteran status, find a specialty facility—all without having to log on to a VA-specific tool or leave the third-party website/app,” the web page explains.
The VA plans for this program to move the agency toward a next-generation open management platform, thereby accelerating plans for their digital transformation. “This platform will be a system for designing, developing, publishing, operating, monitoring, analyzing, iterating and optimizing VA’s API ecosystem,” the VA stated on the web page.
“We are excited to announce this advancement in the way we deliver services,” said VA Secretary Robert Wilkie in a statement. “Healthcare data interoperability plays a key role in all four of VA’s top priorities, from implementing the MISSION Act and modernizing our electronic health record, to transforming our business systems and delivering better customer service. VA is proud to serve as a leader and example in this field,” Wilkie said.
Sarah Sheber is assistant editor/web editor at Journal of AHIMA.