VA inks $13M deal with Google Cloud to accelerate app development for veterans

The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) signed a $13 million contract with Google Cloud to help developers create new apps and tools to improve veterans' access to VA services and data.  

The partnership will enable the VA to scale its Lighthouse API program, which provides access to VA application programming interfaces (APIs) to develop new apps and other data tools, according to the department.

Serving more than 19 million veterans and their families, the VA is the largest healthcare provider in the U.S. and manages a network of 170 medical centers and 1,000 outpatient sites.

Through the partnership, VA will deploy Apigee, Google Cloud’s API management platform. As one example, by leveraging Apigee, developers can use the VA’s benefits API to create applications that help veterans submit and track electronic benefits claims and add supplemental documentation, according to the organizations in a press release. Developers can also easily access the VA’s health APIs to build new online tools that help veterans manage their health and access their medical records.

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“Google Cloud’s Apigee will help the VA to continue scaling the VA Lighthouse API program for third-party developers in a cost-efficient manner, offering veterans more choice in the applications and tools they use to obtain access to their data and services,” said Dave Mazik, director of VA Lighthouse, in a statement.

The VA is working to build a "digital-first" customer experience for veterans, and the Google partnership helps advance that initiative, according to VA officials.

The VA’s Office of Information and Technology launched the Lighthouse API in 2018 as an online location where third-party developers can offer tailored healthcare apps that veterans can voluntarily download for on-demand use to help manage their healthcare.

"By making it easier for developers and partners to build new applications through Apigee, the VA is spurring innovations that will ultimately enable veterans and their families to more easily access important benefits and services," said Mike Daniels, vice president of global public sector at Google Cloud, in a statement.

The VA’s Apigee deployment—built on Apigee’s FedRAMP-authorized platform—will support the department’s existing efforts to safeguard veteran data in compliance with standards such as HIPAA regulations and the Fast Healthcare Interoperability Resources standard for exchanging healthcare information electronically.

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Google acquired Apigee in 2016 for $625 million. As big tech companies push deeper into healthcare, Google Cloud is now competing with Amazon, which offers Amazon API Gateway, and other players in the API management market. 

With Amazon holding a 41% share of the cloud infrastructure market—and achieving an annual revenue run rate of $54 billion in 2021—it’s one of Google Cloud Apigee’s most significant competitors, Venture Beat reports.

The partnership with a federal agency like the VA marks a big step for Google Cloud in the market.