VA launches platform for developers to build apps for vets

Lighthouse Lab will help test APIs enabling veterans to gain access to healthcare information.

The Department of Veterans Affairs has launched a beta version of its cloud-based application programming interface management platform that will provide commercial software developers with access to tools for building mobile and web apps on a standard set of APIs.

Lighthouse, previously known as the Digital Health Platform, will connect data from different sources using an open-source API gateway platform on a private VA cloud—which leverages HL7’s Fast Healthcare Interoperability Resources (FHIR) standard—ensuring that veterans have a real-time, comprehensive view of their healthcare.

The Lighthouse Lab, announced by the VA at the HIMSS18 conference in Las Vegas, will serve as the hub for a small, initial user group of developers who will help to test APIs, build out documentation, create governance standards, as well as test developer support workflows.

According to VA Secretary David Shulkin, MD, who is scheduled to speak on Friday at HIMSS, Lighthouse is in alignment with his strategy of no longer developing software internally but having the agency’s information technology needs met by commercial-off-the-shelf products.

“One of my top five priorities is to modernize our systems, and the announcement of the Lighthouse Lab supports VA’s move toward adopting commercial off-the-shelf products,” said Shulkin in a written statement. “Lighthouse represents VA’s commitment to providing a digital experience in line with what veterans are getting from the private sector by rapidly bringing cutting-edge solutions into VA that can help us accommodate our veterans’ unique needs.”

Also See: VA platform for managing APIs starting to take shape

In support of the Lighthouse Lab, the agency is releasing three initial requests for proposals for micro-purchasing agreements, with awards slated to be made by the end of March and other RFPs to follow this spring.

“The central nervous system to VA’s digital transformation strategy is leveraging a strategic open API program called Lighthouse that adopts an outside-in, value-to-business driven approach to create APIs that are managed as products to be consumed by developers internal and external to VA,” according to the GitHub repository for the program. “Such an approach serves as a change catalyst that will allow VA to decouple systems and continue to leverage its investment in various digital assets, support application rationalization and allow it to absorb new, commercial software-as-a-solution (SaaS) to replace homegrown, outdated systems.”

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