Words: John Davies, Healthcare Lead, Public Sector, Amazon Web Services. PIcture credit: Chris Potter

Cloud has become the new normal as companies of every size are now deploying new applications to the cloud by default, and looking to migrate as many of their existing applications as they can as quickly as possible. For healthcare, the question isn’t “if” anymore, it’s really just “how fast can we move?” and “what are we going to move first?” And we’re at what we consider the beginning stages of adoption.  Not surprisingly, there is no one size fits all, but we do see a few major patterns emerging among healthcare customers:

Dev and test workloads

The first, and this is true with any big technology shift, is development and test workloads.  We have many customers who are running dev and test on AWS.

Building entirely new applications

The second common use case is using AWS for entirely new applications. There’s really no rational reason for not building new applications on the cloud. You get all the advantages right from the start. There’s no legacy, there’s no dependency, and there’s no difficulty migrating it. For example, The NHS Business Services Authority (NHSBSA) is trialling a cloud-based chatbot for its customer contact centers, which has contributed a 40 percent reduction of call volume and over 75 percent of the calls were handled within six minutes, and Siemens has a healthcare application that makes it easier for doctors to provide personalized care to their patients.

Digital properties, analytics, and mobile applications

Next, we see websites and digital properties, analytics, and mobile applications moving to the cloud.  You also see a lot of analytics in this wave because it has never been easier and less expensive to collect, store, analyze and share data than it is with the cloud. Since the cloud guidance was published by NHS Digital in January, we are seeing key themes emerging in UK Healthcare. These include Population Health platforms and cloud enabling large-scale data sets to be processed rapidly at scale. The Institute for Cancer Research, uses AWS for their research on adaptive radiotherapy to enable real-time access to data, speeding their time to results, and lowering the cost per patient in labs and treatment facilities, and Cerner, a global supplier of healthcare technology services, uses AWS and big data to gain actionable, real-time insights, simplifying healthcare delivery while reducing costs for payers, providers, and patients.

Wave of mobile applications

The third set of applications in this wave are mobile because most companies have employees and customers that now have three screens between laptop or desktop and tablet and phone, and most of the applications weren’t built with those other interfaces in mind. Take UK-based Inhealthcare as an example. One of its core tools is using automated telephony as a communication channel to deploy digital health services at scale. Using Amazon Polly, Inhealthcare can deliver medication reminders, health advice and help with treatment.

Business-critical applications

The next wave we are seeing is business-critical applications. For example, Orion Health using AWS built Cal INDEX, one of the largest health information exchanges in the US. By using AWS, Orion health can scale its platform to handle millions of patient records and build HIPAA-compliant solutions for its customers.

We are also seeing companies that are migrating entire data enters to AWS.

Moving all-in to the cloud

Finally, we’re seeing an increasing number of customers moving all-in on AWS. When Netflix announced a few years ago that they were moving all-in on AWS, it was a pretty bold and courageous decision at that time. I would say today it’s not as bold a decision, it’s actually becoming more the new normal. A good example of this is 3M Health Information Systems (HIS). By moving to AWS, 3M HIS provisions compute resources in minutes instead of weeks, develops and deploys software in one week instead of six, and innovates faster.


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john davies aws healthcare cloud artificial intelligence medicineJohn Davies, Healthcare Lead, Public Sector, Amazon Web Services,

John Davies leads the UK&I Healthcare team at Amazon Web Services. He and his team work with both NHS Trusts and Private Sector Healthcare organisations to help unlock digital innovation. He is especially passionate about the opportunities that AI and Cloud computing at scale can bring to improved health outcomes. 

John has over 20 years’ experience in the Healthcare IT industry. Prior to joining AWS, he led a systems engineering team for a global hardware technology vendor, focused on the creation of healthcare solutions. He was also a Senior Development Manager in the NHS for several years.