As part of an aggressive cloud migration plan, the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) is aiming to move 350 apps – or about half the department’s portfolio – to the cloud by 2024, said VA CIO James Gfrerer today at ACT-IAC’s Health Innovation Day 2019.

The cloud migration plan has been a major emphasis of both VA Secretary Robert Wilkie and Gfrerer during recent congressional hearings, and Gfrerer expanded on the details of VA’s approach at today’s event.

“VA is modeling a private sector approach around cloud migration, using COTS [commercial off-the-shelf] systems that are scalable and agile. We’re moving all of our current and new applications to the cloud, and the target is 350 applications, which is roughly half our portfolio, will be moved to the cloud be 2024,” he said.

Gfrerer also touched on VA’s embrace of application programming interfaces (APIs).

“We have a strategy around APIs, we are rolling that out and it’s kind of a rolling success,” he said. “As many of you know, we have a very dated legacy system that we are modernizing as rapidly as we can, but on top of that legacy system, we believe during the transition, the key to our success is this API strategy.”

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He pointed to collaborations with Apple, Verizon, T-Mobile, and others to support applications, and VA’s Lighthouse API platform.

While moderating a panel of health IT industry experts, Gfrerer noted that application development must include both veterans and clinicians.

“There seems to be … one of those false narratives or false choices created around human centered design. Ultimately, it’s about the patient, or the veteran in my case, but it sometimes hurdles over the role of the clinician, and that discussion and interaction. We’re developing apps, especially around the new MISSION Act, that give veterans access to some of that data, but at the end, it still has to be a conversation with the clinician,” he said.

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