Enabling Web Services Through VistA for Better Veteran Care

This is the sixth in a series of blog posts highlighting DSS’s experience and success stories supporting the VA and improving Veteran care and outcomes. Document Storage Systems, Inc. (DSS) has a proven track record as the premier integrator of commercial software for the VA. We put this experience to work enabling modern web services that are delivered through the Veterans Health Information Systems and Technology Architecture (VistA), bringing new functionality to the VA and our veterans.

DSS has developed an evolutionary software integration approach that does not disrupt the current operations of VA or the VistA system and allows for iterative improvements throughout the product lifespan. Incremental improvements involve changes to meet VA regulatory changes, infrastructure changes, modularization, service-oriented architecture (SOA)-based improvements, and centralization of data, to name a few.

Many years ago, DSS recognized the need for an open-standard and uniform VistA web service interface as the basis to modernize our VA and commercial product lines. We knew this interface also needed to support rapid development for an ever-evolving VistA ecosystem, so we developed DSS VistA Service Oriented Architecture (VSOA); the middle tier that instantly turns any VistA remote procedure call (RPC or a VistA based Stored Procedure) into a standardized and uniform web service interface. Where RPCs do not already exist, DSS’s legacy domain knowledge is used to create them. VSOA is already deployed in the VA cloud as a part of the national procurement for Caribou CLC Suite, and it’s installed as part of other DSS COTS solutions purchased by VA.

Caribou CLC Suite automates resident care workflow processes for Community Living Centers through integration with VistA. The solution also streamlines centralized MDS care plan scheduling and tracking within an external hosted environment to reduce IT costs. The benefits of Caribou CLC Suite include:

  • Decrease the risk of errors

  • Reduce double entry of data

  • Shorten workflow processes for providers

  • Improve overall delivery of residential care

As this example demonstrates, the challenges of integrating modern web and mobile applications with every VistA instance across the enterprise has been effectively solved. Today, VSOA provides a proven, standards-based, enterprise-wide means of reading from and writing to every VistA instance.

VA ETA, the go-forward architectural standards within the VA, requires COTS vendors and VA development entities to adhere to a set of architecture principles describing reusable standards, rules, guidelines, and configurations for the Enterprise IT layer of the VA Enterprise Architecture. All new products being developed by DSS are built with using browser-based user interfaces and responsive web application frameworks. When necessary, we add an external SQL Server database as a secondary source of information, but we firmly believe in keeping VistA the database-of-record to promote integration, and we limit duplication of data whenever possible.

DSS provides the VA a proven history of navigating the unique VA ecosystem, and we provide risk mitigation and systems knowledge that is unparalleled by any other application developer, integrator or service vendor. Our decades of successful partnership with the VA, and dozens of COTS vendors, gives us a wealth of experience in bridging the cultural, technical, and human-factor gaps that have stalled projects in the past.

Our commitment remains unchanged to keep helping the VA meet its operational mission of providing the “Best Care Anywhere” to our nation’s Veterans.