When healthcare moves into the cloud: A deep dive

Johannesburg, 17 Nov 2021
Read time 4min 00sec

Strengthening collaboration, making data-driven clinical and operational decisions and enabling the more precise practice of medicine are central concerns in today’s healthcare industry. As healthcare and life science organisations grapple with how to achieve these, they are also actively looking at ways of decreasing the cost of care, while improving quality. To do this, many have found they have had to re-invent the way they approach almost everything, and are continually looking for cost-effective tools to enable this transformation.

In this context, cloud computing has really started to show its mettle in the local healthcare and life sciences industries. A great example of this is the innovations made by healthcare non-profit CareConnect, which has developed a digital information exchange platform that connects healthcare payers and healthcare providers, creating South Africa’s first private sector Health Information Exchange (HIE).

Another example is the National Department of Health’s (NDOH’s) roll-out of the national Electronic Vaccination Data Systems (EVDS) system, allowing government to drive South Africa’s COVID-19 vaccine programme as a use case of a population health initiative.

“The advancement of population healthcare through the use of technology is truly here, and cloud-enabled health transformation is driving this in South Africa,” says Jean Pierre Horne, Head of Healthcare at Amazon Web Services (AWS).

“The cloud, digital innovation and improved public-private sector partnerships together are driving progress and improving service delivery in the healthcare sector,” he says. “It’s astounding to watch this transformation in real-time.

“We are at a critical moment where technology service providers and healthcare providers are using technology in the cloud to dramatically transform healthcare, which is crucial in the face of a declining healthcare provider workforce. The ever-growing need to improve operational efficiency in the provision of value-based, patient-centric care, while reducing the cost of providing this care is very real,” Horne says.*

What has also become clear during the COVID-19 pandemic, however, is the power of data-driven insights facilitated by the use of analytics, artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML) to help public and private research, he explains. Non-profit and research organisations capture, store and process a phenomenal amount of data as it is produced during the pandemic. “This is a first in the modern age, and the cloud has played an instrumental role in being able to do this at scale, and in a shorter period of time,” continues Horne.

What the future holds for healthcare as well as the progress South Africa has made so far will come under discussion at an AWS webinar entitled: Technology-Enabled Healthcare Delivery this week. Experts will explore how the South African health sector is employing cloud and other technologies to enhance patient-centric care delivery.

At this webinar, Milani Wolmarans, Chief Director for the National Health Insurance (NHI) Information Systems at the NDOH, will explain how new technologies will be deployed to provide health services to all communities, including remote communities that were previously difficult to service.

Other experts speaking at the event will include Jean Pierre Horne; Dr Rolan Christian (Chief Technology Executive at CareConnect Health Information Exchange SA NPC); and Dr Julian Fleming (Group General Manager for Digital Transformation at Mediclinic International), who will together explore the role of the cloud in this transformation.

The webinar will also outline how AWS Healthcare & Life Sciences, working to enable access and delivery of patient-centred healthcare, is driving improved outcomes at a lower cost by accelerating the digitisation and use of healthcare data.

For more than 13 years, AWS has been the world’s most comprehensive and broadly adopted cloud platform, and for the past eight years, it has had a dedicated and diverse life sciences team to serve customers globally. This includes over 10 000 government agencies, 1 100 life science companies, and nine of the top 10 biopharma companies globally.

“The launch of the AWS Africa (Cape Town) Region demonstrates AWS's long-term commitment to South Africa and addresses any concerns about data sovereignty and compliance among local healthcare organisations,” says Horne. “We intend to position AWS as the cloud service provider of choice for South African healthcare innovation. And we’re well on the way to realising that.”

Click here for more information or to register for this event.

* Source: Transforming Public Healthcare in the Cloud (PowerPoint presentation)

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