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VA Turns to UPMC’s Shrestha to Lead Open API Pledge

March 19, 2018
by Rajiv Leventhal
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The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) has announced that Rasu Shrestha, M.D., chief innovation officer at the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center, will lead the department’s Open Application Programming Interface (API) pledge that it announced at HIMSS18.

As part of a larger federal government push on patient data access, VA announced the launch of a “beta” version of its Lighthouse Lab, which offers software developers access to tools for creating mobile and web applications to help veterans better manage their care, services and benefits. 

“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,” VA Secretary David Shulkin, M.D., said in a prepared statement at the time of the announcement.

Considered the “front door” to VA’s vast data stores, Lighthouse is the department’s API management platform. VA is seeking a small, initial-user group to begin building the Lighthouse Lab developer community. Participation will include helping to test APIs, building out documentation, developing governance standards and testing developer support workflows. So far, VA has said that 11 healthcare providers have initially signed up to partner with the department, with several more having expressed interested.

It was announced this week that Shulkin has asked Dr. Shrestha to lead the initiative. “I am excited to see this vision become a reality, and am actively seeking other healthcare systems to join our pledge, and ask developers to take part in our Lighthouse Lab, so we can shape a new direction for healthcare together,” Shulkin said.  

Shrestha added, “There is no moment greater than now for the industry to step up and make their voices heard to push towards real and meaningful interoperability. This is an important moment for the private sector to answer the Secretary’s call and work with our vendors to make information flow and use as freely accessible as possible to make care safer and better for veterans.”

The coalition effort includes key stakeholders across the industry to elevate electronic health record (EHR) interoperability and realize the potential of the Open API Pledge to accelerate the design, testing and implementation of the Argonaut Project implementation guides of the FHIR API, according to VA officials.

Pledgees will meet for the first roundtable discussion in April and commit to working with VA and standards community to implement the existing Argonaut implementation guides.

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