Cloud technology had a noticeable impact on healthcare efficiency and outcomes during what was considered the worst healthcare crisis in a generation around the world – yet healthcare is only scratching the surface of what the technology can achieve. say experts from Amazon Web Services (AWS), Amazon’s cloud computing services division.
In examples from India, the Netherlands, the UK, and the US, the cloud has proven invaluable in many healthcare facilities. For example, ESanjeevani, a browser-based telemedicine platform developed to improve access to health services in India, has enabled patients to access clinical consultations 12 hours a day, seven days a week as COVID hit the country. Today, over 1 billion people can receive treatment through the platform – over 80% of the Indian population – with 4000 dedicated doctors and over 150 synchronous outpatient consultations.
Support for earlier detection
Advanced cloud computing has also enabled innovation in medical research by giving researchers access to relevant, anonymized data sets under tight controls. Genomics England worked with technology partner Lifebit to provide secure access to a cohort of sequenced genomes of 20,000 patients with severe COVID-19 infection and 15,000 patients with milder cases (using reference data from the 100,000 Genomes Project). Leading research organizations and pharmaceutical companies used this data to develop new diagnostic, treatment and vaccine programs.
Radboud University Medical Center, an EMRAM Stage 7 hospital in the Netherlands, has meanwhile launched its Grand Challenge for AI developers and clinicians to develop solutions to classify lung abnormalities in the fight against COVID. More than 45,000 researchers worldwide have now registered with the platform and show how large the scope is that can be achieved through cloud-based research.
The cloud has also proven to be a powerful tool in the hospital environment. In the United States, for example, Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, a teaching hospital at Harvard Medical School, works with AWS to address inefficiencies and make process improvements, including optimizing its operating room schedules and alignment to improve patient flow.
Improved access to care and engagement
Dr. Rowland Illing, International Healthcare Director and Chief Medical Officer at AWS, said, “Cloud computing made a tangible impact on health outcomes during the worst global health crisis in a generation. While the foundations for using the cloud have been laid, we are still only scratching the surface of what can be achieved with cloud technology for healthcare systems. “
“Advanced computing, database and storage capabilities combined with machine learning and AI tools can help healthcare technology partners, consulting partners and healthcare systems develop solutions and services that serve patients,” said Dr. Illing. “Even greater reliance is placed on systems that democratize access to care, enable world-class decision-making and access to relevant medical research,” he continued.
Prevention is becoming a reality
And at a recent AWS Innovation Day, Andrea Fiumicelli, CEO of Italy-based health and diagnostic software provider Dedalus, spoke about how cloud technology can be used to create a digital ecosystem for health care to ensure continuity of care services and address the fragmentation and lack of standardization of data and the acceleration of patient-centered care models.
“Enhanced computing power and improved database capabilities mean that preventive health assessments of the population are now a reality,” said Dr. Illing from AWS, citing a recent paper by Mallya et al. Published on arXiv.org. In this study, patients who developed congestive heart failure were identified with high accuracy up to 15 months in advance using 12-month follow-up data.
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