The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) is well on its way towards its goal to move substantially to the cloud by 2024, with over 100 apps already migrated and expanded telehealth efforts leveraging cloud services, said James Gfrerer, VA CIO, during a MeriTalk webinar on Dec. 16.

With the VA making a commitment to a strong cloud migration in late 2018 after several IT projects came under scrutiny from Congress, Gfrerer noted that the work already in place has been key to the department’s COVID response.

“Two years ago when I came on, we had goal of about 350 – roughly half – of our applications to migrate to our VA Enterprise Cloud … we’re well over 100 plus [apps],” he said. “That foundation and that reliability provided us what we needed, and provided us what we needed more of during the pandemic. We were able to scale faster, and also provide that ability to do some new things,” he added.

On the topic of new efforts, Gfrerer shared how leveraging the cloud has been crucial for the massive increase in telehealth visits during COVID, with the VA going from 2,400 daily visits in February to over 40,000 in recent weeks.

“On that journey, it really was a partnership with the Veteran’s Health Administration and their technology providers. The Reader’s Digest version is that we were essentially able to carry the on-premise infrastructure to about 17,000 daily appointments and prior to that, we had a plan that we call Care to the Cloud, to carry it another … two to three times that capability,” he said.

Looking to the future, the VA is looking at new opportunities to use the cloud, including the department’s Trusted Internet Connections (TIC) gateways. Gfrerer noted that a cloud-based gateway would allow for much better scaling, and avoid the headaches the department faced when it needed to stress test its gateways during the pandemic.

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MeriTalk Staff