With CoWIN, India has prioritized platform scalability: Nicola Murphy, Chief Health Officer at AWS
As the Indian government pools its efforts to digitize health data, technologies such as cloud computing that can foster data interoperability are at the center of attention. Nicola Murphy, Head of International Government Health, Amazon Web Services (AWS), one of the market leaders in cloud computing for healthcare, told BT how the technology can benefit India and to the world beyond the pandemic. Edited excerpts…
What is the future of cloud computing?
We are currently scratching the surface of what is possible in the cloud for healthcare applications. Cloud technology is the on-demand delivery of computing resources over the Internet with pay-per-use pricing. AWS provides a secure infrastructure for computing resources such as analytics, machine learning, databases, storage, and more. Our customers, including healthcare organizations, use these services with their data, and they retain complete control and ownership of the data they choose to use with them. services.
What are the important areas of the healthcare industry in terms of cloud computing? How has AWS helped India with its technology?
There are three important areas in health care. The first is cloud agility. You can go from idea to idea or from idea to implementation of something orders of magnitude faster than you could otherwise. We have found this to be extremely useful in response to rapidly changing demands during the pandemic and it will also be useful for organizations in the future. The second area is cloud flexibility. It is possible to grow and shrink the cloud in response to changing demands. Therefore, there is no need to forecast what demand will look like days, weeks, months or even years in advance. We found this to be beneficial during the pandemic, when suddenly there was new demand that no one could have predicted before 2020. For example, we worked with a volunteer and start-up organization in India called Project StepOne who created a telemedicine solution on AWS Cloud to strengthen government COVID-19 response resources by enabling volunteers with the required knowledge and skills to work remotely and directly within government systems. They help address issues such as staff shortages, training and onboarding delays, and create a system that can shrink or expand based on government capacity. Project StepOne has brought together more than 12,000 volunteer physicians, has over 30,000 total volunteers, and has supported more than 21 states and union territories. It has already facilitated more than 8.5 million teleconsultations and mental health counseling sessions for citizens through volunteer health professionals and is estimated to have averted more than 500,000 new infections. During the second wave of the pandemic in India (as of March 2021), Project StepOne witnessed an average of around 5 million events and an inbound traffic load of around 2 million sessions per day, which it has seamlessly increased by 8x since March 2021 leveraging AWS services.
The third and final area, highly relevant to healthcare organizations around the world, that AWS is very passionate and committed to, is helping healthcare systems achieve their overall mission. This does not just mean providing IT infrastructure, but also understanding what their challenges and priorities are and how we can partner with them to support them. As an example, we have seen many health systems around the world focusing on health equity and wanting to promote greater health equity. Something we saw was impacted during the pandemic, people who had generally poor health outcomes before tended to be more severely affected by the health effects of COVID-19. This is an area where we have seen the cloud respond or have been used to respond to the pandemic and will be used moving forward as well.
Are there any specific AWS engagements with the Indian government?
The Indian government has developed an end-to-end vaccination platform called CoWIN; it’s a great example of cloud scalability and flexibility. India has prioritized making the platform scalable, inclusive and open, sharing the platform globally for the public good. According to the May 2022 CoWIN dashboard, over 1.9 billion doses of vaccination have been administered in India. According to data from CoWIN as of September 2021, India has achieved a milestone by administering 22.5 million doses of vaccination in a single day, with 28,000 doses per minute or 466 doses per second. There is another example of AWS supporting the government in healthcare innovations in India – C-DAC’s work with AWS on eSanjeevaniOPD.
This is yet another excellent example of agility and speed. As you know, C-DAC is a premier research and development organization of the Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology (MeitY), Government of India, tasked with enhancing the technological capabilities and applications of the India by developing and deploying world-class electronics and technology solutions. . When COVID-19 hit and India was in lockdown, outpatient departments of hospitals and clinics across the country shut down. C-DAC worked with AWS to build and launch the eSanjeevaniOPD teleconsultation service in just 19 days and initially rolled it out to four states in India. eSanjeevaniOPD has so far provided over 3 crore (30 million) teleconsultations in India and set a record by achieving 1.7 lakh (170,000) consultations in a single day. This service has helped people from 28 Indian states to seek medical assistance virtually from the confines of their homes.
How to ensure the security of patient data when using these technologies, especially in a country like India? What can India learn from the world?
Safety is our number one priority. Organizations using AWS maintain full control over their data. So they choose where they use the platform and how they use it, and there are several tools provided by AWS to help them do that, but they retain complete control and ownership of their data and are responsible for management of data on the platform in complete safety. However, there are several areas where AWS supports this. The infrastructure AWS is built on is designed for the world’s most security-conscious organizations. And it’s the same infrastructure that we use in all of our regions, including regions like India.
This means that any organization that uses AWS can benefit from a high level of security focus in all aspects of the infrastructure. We have several security-related regions that our customers can use to learn how to use AWS securely, some of which specialize in healthcare. In the United States, many of our services are HIPPA eligible. In the UK it is the NHS Data Protection and Security Toolkit which helps organizations process or store NHS health data which can be used to assess the platform against standards safety requirements defined by the British NHS. AWS Cloud is very secure and we have several certifications that can be used to support it. Organizations using AWS retain complete control and ownership of their data through the suite of tools.
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