AWS cloud enables more efficient, cost-effective healthcare systems with Health Information Exchange

Johannesburg, 20 Jun 2022
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The AWS cloud environment enabled South Africa’s new CareConnect Health Information Exchange (HIE) to go live in just two years, giving health professionals access to critical patient information across six of the country’s leading hospital groups and medical scheme administrators. Through the power of cloud technology, healthcare professionals are now supported in delivering quality, efficient healthcare, wherever and whenever it is needed. 

The HIE facilitates access to information relating to patient health conditions, including results from blood tests and radiology screens. By connecting multiple systems, it eliminates the need for unnecessary duplicate pathology and radiology services, saving time, driving efficiencies and improving patient outcomes.

CareConnect is a not-for-profit organisation founded by six of South Africa’s largest medical aid administrators and hospital groups, including Discovery, Medscheme, Life Healthcare, Momentum Health, Mediclinic and Netcare. These bastions of South African healthcare came together to bring about the exchange of health information, with the intention of covering the entire South African healthcare sector.

CareConnect came into operation in August 2021 and opened for business in Q1 2022 with over three million lives secured in the HIE in its first phase, marking a milestone for South African healthcare. The true value of the CareConnect HIE will be realised when it is integrated in both the public and private healthcare sectors and becomes an asset for the entire South African healthcare system.

The use of cloud technology accentuated the power of this collaboration, with AWS cloud tech forming the foundation of its success. As a greenfields organisation, it was not bogged down by the need to migrate from on-premises equipment, giving it the ability to begin as a cloud-native organisation. Dr Rolan Christian, CEO of CareConnect, says: “In the beginning, we were looking at how best to leverage those technological innovations to leapfrog and get to the point where we could go live with our six founding members quite quickly. In a two-year space, we developed our infrastructure in AWS. We developed the skills required, but also implemented the tools to create the HIE, which I think is phenomenal.”

Christian says the best part about AWS was the fact that the cloud services provider had three regions in South Africa. “What we found even better was when we were invited by AWS to test the region before its launch. For a small company of about 20 employees, it was very heart-warming to see a partner say, ‘Come and test the region before it launches, see what it’s like and utilise the capability’.”

He says CareConnect aspires to be part of the cloud ecosystem, giving the organisation the ability to test what’s available, be part of what’s coming up and deliver that value.

Christian notes that the South African healthcare industry has been highly fragmented, which increases costs, creates more complexity for members and patients, and does not provide the experience for providers and patients to deliver the care needed to solve some of the biggest healthcare challenges in the country. “Our vision is to reduce that fragmentation and find better ways for doctors to deliver care and help patients to proactively manage their wellness through the use of these data platforms,” says Christian.

“To deliver patient-centred care, organisations in the heavily regulated healthcare industry need to increase the pace of innovation and unlock the potential of data, all while keeping health information secure and private. AWS empowers health organisations to improve patient outcomes and accelerate the digitisation and utilisation of their data with the broadest and deepest portfolio of cloud services and purpose-built partner solutions," said Jean Pierre Horne, Healthcare Account Manager at AWS.

For the last 15 years, AWS has collaborated with healthcare professionals and industry experts alongside health organisations to design and deploy solutions with a unified goal in mind: improving patient outcomes. Horne says CareConnect is the perfect example of how this collaboration can benefit the public.

During a Cloud Series executive forum to be hosted by AWS in collaboration with ITWeb on 7 July, experts will explore the ways in which the South African health sector is employing the AWS cloud and other technologies to enhance service delivery. To register for this event, click here.

For more information about AWS for health, visit learn more about CareConnect here.

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