Using cloud technology to support patients and citizens during Covid-19 and beyond

By - Integrated Care Journal

Using cloud technology to support patients and citizens during Covid-19 and beyond

Most health systems around the world faced challenges when responding to the pressures presented by Covid-19: from needing to care for more people and managing disrupted supply chains, to acting to keep their workforce safe and well. The wider context for health systems has also persisted with the shift from activity-driven to outcomes-led payment models, the exponential growth of digital data from which insights can be derived, and a focus on better health system efficiency. Within this context, health systems and their patients around the world have already benefitted from the use of cloud technology to respond to the pandemic, and to provide more routine care and support to citizens.

Using data to derive insights

The cloud has enabled health systems to explore real-time, complex, and linked datasets to inform decision-making during their responses to Covid-19. The World Health Organization used Amazon Web Services (AWS) to consolidate multifarious data, perform analysis on epidemiological data from countries, and visualise this information so that countries around the world could track how well interventions were working. In the UK, PanSurg and Imperial College London were able to tackle the “infodemic” of emerging data relating to Covid-19 by using AWS machine learning and analytics tools. This platform has supported clinicians and policymakers to synthesise the evidence for treating Covid-19 and to apply the latest best practice.

As health systems transition to increased elective care provision, it will be even more important to swiftly analyse datasets, make predictions and test them efficiently and effectively. Cloud technology provides the necessary tools and agility to make this possible.

Enabling research and collaboration

Researchers are also realising the potential of cloud technology to swiftly derive new insights which impact patient care. For example, the Cerner Learning Health Network brings together de-identified, electronic health record data from multiple organisations into a large, organised repository, known as a data lake. This data is then analysed to spot trends and salient data points, something made possible at speed with cloud technology’s scale and computing power. This platform has already been used by clinicians and researchers to help them identify effective treatment pathways for Covid-19, meaning more patients can benefit earlier.

Genomics England also made use of the AWS Cloud during the pandemic to create a Covid-19 research environment in partnership with British tech company, Lifebit. Through this platform, researchers can collaborate at scale, generate new insights and run complex analytics, without any data leaving Genomics England’s secure environment.

Provision of care and support for citizens

During the pandemic, health systems experienced surging demand for virtual care and access to information. Organisations already running on cloud technology were able to scale up services quickly to cope with the additional demand. For example, Nye Health – a provider of telehealth services – ramped up the volume of patient contacts they offered, while continuing to comply with the NHS’s standards for data protection and security.

The agility, scalability and global reach of cloud technology can also enable more routine monitoring and support for patients. For example, Propeller Health used the scalability, agility and flexibility of AWS to expand its digital health platform for people with asthma and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease. The company now reaches more than 100,000 patients across three continents with its technology, which senses when a patient has taken their medication and delivers insights and reminders to the Propeller app on their phone.

These are just some of the ways in which health systems are using the cloud to deliver more accessible, more responsive and more cutting-edge care to their patients.


To learn how AWS innovation supports health system transformation, see below.

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