Veteran services

Cloud Exchange 2022: VA’s Dave Mazik on veteran service transformation

The Department of Veterans Affairs is providing its patients with increased access and control of their health and benefits data as part of an ongoing digital services transformation.

Dave Mazik, director of the Lighthouse platform in VA’s Office of Information Technology, said VA has data on more than 9 million patients and about 6 million of them have received VA care. over the past year.

The VA enterprise cloud is the foundation of how the agency shares…

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The Department of Veterans Affairs is providing its patients with increased access and control of their health and benefits data as part of an ongoing digital services transformation.

Dave Mazik, director of the Lighthouse platform in VA’s Office of Information Technology, said VA has data on more than 9 million patients and about 6 million of them have received VA care. over the past year.

The VA’s enterprise cloud is the foundation for how the agency shares health and benefits data with veterans, Mazik told the Federal News Network. Cloud Exchange 2022.

“The ability to serve that data in the cloud, just reliably and efficiently, is so much easier than having to build all that infrastructure in a dedicated VA farm. So that ability to scale and that ability to process and manage huge amounts of high-quality data is so much easier with what the cloud allows,” he said.

Create ease of access to service at VA

The Lighthouse platform provides veterans with their VA data via application program interfaces. These APIs give veterans and organizations secure access to appeals, benefits, health, and veteran status verification information.

“An analogy we often give is that it’s like this wall socket accessing electricity for appliances you might have in your home. It’s really how you get the data and services you need from VA, using either VA-developed apps or approved, trusted third-party apps that veterans want to connect,” Mazik said.

The Lighthouse program aims to provide veterans with a digital experience comparable to the level of customer service available online in the private sector. Mazik said veterans are also increasingly looking for VA benefits and services online.

“Lighthouse is really set up to be essentially this easy gateway, to provide access to data and services that are essential to these veterans and give them the choice of whether or not to use the native VA applications they want. bring on the devices they have, that they want to connect to their VA data in any way they choose,” Mazik said.

Migration to VA’s enterprise cloud through Microsoft Azure and Amazon Web Services has allowed the agency to grow to meet veterans’ demand for digital services, he said.

“Especially when we’re talking about letting veterans use the apps they want, we really can’t control the demand. It’s up to the veteran to decide how they want to use their apps and connect to their data. The cloud really allows us to scale while maintaining a really good end-user experience and performance,” Mazik said.

A wide range of self-service digital tools for veterans

Among the capabilities of the Lighthouse platform, veterans can seamlessly log up to 10 years of their medical history.

“They basically provide their VA credentials once, and then their app of choice, of those approved by VA, is able to download all of that information in a way that’s convenient for them both to access and share in the way they choose,” Mazik said. .

VA’s drive to provide digital experiences has allowed veterans to submit benefit claims as a self-serve option through VA.gov.

“Many veterans work with veterans service organizations to help them through this process. Traditionally, they sat with them at the end. They would print out a sheet of paper and mail or fax it to VA. So what we’ve done is we’ve allowed this to become a digital transaction,” Mazik said.

VA processes about 75,000 benefit claims per month, he said.

VA is also taking steps to ensure that sharing veteran data in the cloud is secure.

“You want to do zero-trust, veteran-focused security. Basically, when a veteran accesses their data, we just don’t want that app to have carte blanche access to all of the veterans data. We want this security to be limited to the veteran, so if there is a security breach or issue, that attack surface is limited to one user’s data rather than the entire patient population.” , said Mazik. “On top of that, we want to make sure the veteran really understands what the app does, how it connects to VA, what data it’s going to pull. And then once the data is pulled into their VA-approved application, what is the application going to do with the data? »

VA conducts a thorough privacy policy review of third-party apps to ensure they comply with the agency’s ethical principles for sharing veteran data.

“They are written in plain language so veterans can understand them. It really describes their data lifecycle and what data is pulled from VA, so they’re really in control if they see something they don’t like. They can say ‘No’ and decide not to use this app or make sure they are comfortable granting this app permission to connect to their data,” Mazik said.

Using Automation to Accelerate VA Claims Processing

VA since December 2021 has also begun to automate some aspects of how it processes benefit claims.

Mazik said this automation reduced a 50-day approval time to two days, in some cases. The department has also saved more than 20,000 days of waiting for veterans in the benefits adjudication process through its automation efforts, he added.

“What we have enabled in the backend, think of it as this little micro engine running in the background on this claim. We are reviewing VA’s medical history to see if this veteran is actually a patient and looking for certain conditions they might already have. What we’re essentially doing is automating claims adjudication to consider health data in conjunction with claiming benefits,” Mazik said.

See all Federal News Network sessions Cloud Exchange 2022.