The United States Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) is the department of the federal government charged with providing life-long benefits and healthcare services to eligible military veterans at the 1,700 VA medical centers and outpatient clinics throughout the U.S.
The VA has a frequent need to provide personalized digital communications to its users regarding their health benefits and other services VA provides. Previously, VA did not have a consistent way to deliver these types of digital communications and frequently relied solely on paper mail.
In partnership with the VA since 2019, Thoughtworks, utilizing our software engineering and platform strategy and development capabilities, helped VA launch a centralized customer notification platform known as VANotify. The platform was based on the open source Notify project, originally published by the UK government and further enhanced by the Canadian government. VANotify and its corresponding application programming interface (API) enables VA business lines and development teams to provide digital notifications to Veterans, families and other stakeholders.
In this project, Thoughtworks applied DevOps best practices and utilized AWS services such as Aurora, Kinesis and CloudWatch, building on AWS GovCloud with Infrastructure as Code using Terraform. Furthermore, integrating tools such as TwistLock in the CI pipeline to scan container images for vulnerabilities before deploying with AWS Fargate allowed the team to ‘shift left’ security to the earliest possible point in the development cycle.
The VA now uses the platform that Thoughtworks built to send emails and texts that can provide a range of functions, including confirming Veterans’ receipt of benefits applications, notifying Veterans of changes to their VA accounts, and helping Veterans track their VA Pharmacy deliveries. The VA also used the feature as part of the overall communications plan for COVID-19 vaccinations. Over 200,000 veterans received communications around vaccination planning through VANotify. Since launch, VANotify has sent more than 1.5 million digital notifications with an open rate of about 70%, improving the lives of U.S. veterans through modernized communications.