AWS (Amazon Web Services) and The Healthcare industry
AWS is the world’s most comprehensive and broadly adopted cloud offering, with more than 200 fully featured services available from data centers globally. It’s been over a year since Amazon Web Services (AWS) rolled out AWS for Health – a suite of cloud-based services for the healthcare, genomics, and biopharmaceutical industries – which promised to accelerate innovation “from benchtop to bedside”. So now is an opportune time to take a step back and look at AWS’s impact on the health industry, specifically in Australia, and particularly during the COVID-19 pandemic, when technology and cloud-based computing played such a key role in digital transformation.
In the case of healthcare, that’s everything from real-time patient alerts, to data storage and analytics, to clinic software, telehealth, and call centre management. The list goes on and on. Basically, anything that can help medical staff, hospitals, patients and clinics do things smarter, safer, faster, remotely and more efficiently.
“AWS is a trusted technology and innovation partner to the global healthcare and life sciences industry, providing unmatched reliability, security, and data privacy,” says Iain Rouse, AWS’s Country Director of Public Sector, Australia and New Zealand, “AWS helps customers such as hospitals, care providers, and more, to further strengthen privacy and security, scale services to meet population needs, and achieve a faster path to delivering innovation for patients and clinicians. By leveraging the cloud, healthcare organisations can be more agile in responding to crises and scale quickly. They can also rapidly access large health data sets and resources easily to accelerate collaboration and improve the quality and safety of patient care.”
Globally, some of these achievements have been incredibly significant, particularly in relation to the development of the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine. Moderna was able to complete the sequence for its groundbreaking mRNA vaccine in just two days using machine learning built on AWS. The World Health Organization (WHO) also leveraged AWS to build large-scale data lakes during the pandemic, which aggregated epidemiological data from around the world and helped track the spread of the virus.
Closer to home, the last few years have seen rapid digital transformation in the Australian healthcare industry. According to the latest CommBank GP Insights Report, new technology ranked among medical practices’ top three growth strategies. Partly this a response to the unprecedented challenges of COVID-19, and partly it’s because the technology is simply that good now. The ability to capture, store and analyse large health data sets is now the foundation of everything from diseases research and GP clinic management to public health policy.
When the pandemic struck in 2020, New South Wales Health faced an 18-fold increase in demand for videoconferencing, remote work and telehealth services, and they turned to AWS for help. In just three weeks, the service saw wait times drop from days to hours. New South Wales Pathology was also able to leverage AWS to rollout and scale its COVID-19 testing capacity – automated SMS delivery systems were used to deliver results to patients just hours after completion in the lab. This sort of thing obviously shows the true power of cloud solutions: they’re flexible, robust, and can be rolled out quickly at scale. All critical requirements during a pandemic.
We’ve also seen several interesting startups emerge in the local health-tech space, many of which use AWS. Kynd is a great example. It’s a platform that helps people living with disabilities on the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS) find, book and manage their NDIS support worker. Using AWS, Kynd has experienced a 335% boom in users during the last year, and recently received support from AWS as part of its Health Equity Initiative. The AWS Health Equity Initiative is a global program to support organisations working to enhance health outcomes and health equity for underserved or underrepresented communities.
AWS has made cloud-based computing more accessible for healthcare institutions in Australia, while also prioritising data security. The more patient data we keep on the cloud, and the more we share and collaborate using that data, the more we need to ensure the highest levels of security and compliance. Rouse highlights that the challenge over the next few years will be setting up the systems and policies to make sure all our healthcare data is stored, used and accessed correctly.
“Clear and accountable data governance policies is critical, as privacy and protection policies are key building blocks of digital health”, says Rouse. “AWS is highly sensitive to the security needs of public sector customers in Australia, New Zealand, and Oceania. We support more security standards and compliance certifications than any other offering, and provide services to millions of active customers around the world, including financial services providers, healthcare providers, and government agencies, who trust us to secure and protect their most sensitive information. The cloud helps a nation to stay a step ahead of adversaries. AWS solutions enable the national security community to achieve their missions faster, speed up innovation, and save costs by scaling up quickly without the lengthy and costly process of acquiring hardware.”
Amid a digital skills shortfall in Australia and across the region, AWS is collaborating with organisations to prioritise training across various sectors. “A digitally trained healthcare workforce will be crucial to helping the healthcare sector meet the rising demand for cloud computing and be empowered to drive innovation in digital health”, adds Rouse.
Interested in learning more about AWS and Digital Health Transformation? Check out Digital Health and related courses here.