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Lighthouse Open API Pledge - Shaping a New Direction for Health Care

Health care providers can sign VA’s Open Application Programming Interface (API) Pledge, a promise to work collaboratively with VA to advance the speed in which health data are shared in a manner comparable to industry standards. The Open API Pledge was immediately signed by 12 leading health care providers after it was announced at the Healthcare Information and Management Systems Society conference in March 2018. Since then, several more institutions have expressed interest in signing the pledge.

“The API pledge is not only important for Veterans but is an important first step in creating seamless electronic records for all U.S. citizens,” said Stephen Klasko, President and CEO of Thomas Jefferson University and Jefferson Health and current pledgee.

The Open API Pledge is another building block on the path to VA-wide modernization. By committing to an open development environment, VA allows for new and innovative technology solutions for Veterans to better manage their access to care, benefits, and services. With increased ease of collaboration, key stakeholders across the health care sector can work toward maximizing interoperability.

Since launching its Lighthouse API Management Platform in March 2018, VA has delivered a developer portal, a Benefits Intake API, a Health API, and a Facilities API.

Health API

The Veterans Health API was introduced on December 4, 2018 at the White House Executive Forum on Healthcare Data Interoperability. The Forum, sponsored by the White House Office of American Innovation brought together senior healthcare leaders from both the public and private sectors.

Consistent with VA’s Open API Pledge, the Health API conforms to the Argonaut Fast Healthcare Interoperability Resources (FHIR) API standards. VA believes that open, FHIR-based APIs are an essential component in a modern interoperability strategy, and that government and industry must collaborate to expand available FHIR resources and the utilization thereof.

“We are excited to announce this advancement in the way we deliver services,” said VA Secretary Robert Wilkie. “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.”

VA has long been committed to providing our Veteran patients easy digital access to their own healthcare data. Since the launch of our Blue Button product in 2010, more than 2 million Veterans have downloaded over 32 million personal health data files from the VA’s patient portal. 

These Health APIs will power the next generation of Blue Button features by enabling Veterans to interact with their own personal health data within innovative mobile and web-based apps.  Health APIs will also support new clinician-focused applications, and can also serve as a foundation for data sharing between health systems to support Veteran care.

Benefits API

The Benefits Intake API allows third-party organizations, such as Veteran Service Organizations (VSOs), to securely submit Veteran disability compensation and pension claims and related documents directly to VA.

Today, 65 percent of claims VA receives are in paper or fax. The Benefits Intake API was built in collaboration between VA’s Office of Information and Technology, the Veteran Benefits Administration, and VSOs to help Veterans get their information to VA faster and more securely.

“We’re really excited that the Benefits Intake API is live. We are on track to see about 20 percent growth each week since rolling out in beta,” said the Office of Information and Technology’s Executive in Charge Camilo J. Sandoval. “Our partners at the California Department of Veterans Affairs successfully sent over 1,000 documents through the API during its first few weeks, and we are actively bringing on multiple new partners.”  Every document received through this API saves the taxpayer money and helps us deliver a faster, accurate decision for Veterans. 

“VA remains committed to providing Veterans the benefits they have earned at the highest quality,” said VA Secretary Robert Wilkie. “Customer service to our Veterans is more than how we talk to each other, it also is how we present ourselves to the outside world. Using technology like this will help VA continue to improve the way we care for Veterans.”

Content last updated or reviewed on January 3, 2019