Equinix and AWS: A collaboration to modernise the future of healthcare IT

Managed edge infrastructure is the first step for Australian healthcare providers to migrate workloads to the cloud

Rajaneesh Kurup
Stephanie Louis
Equinix and AWS: A collaboration to modernise the future of healthcare IT

Australia’s healthcare information technology is under increasing pressure as demand for new patient care services increases. Telehealth, for example, has been turbocharged by the COVID-19 pandemic. Deloitte Australia’s Technology, Media and Telecommunications Predictions report predicts the percentage of virtual video visits to doctors will rise to 5% globally in 2021, and Australia will exceed the global average for telehealth adoption with more than 10% of people regularly using telehealth services this year.[1]

More than 90% of the Australian population now has an online personal health record.[2] With this increase in data in the ANZ healthcare industry and other similar trends as health records are digitised, government and commercial entities can begin new data analytics and artificial intelligence and machine learning (AI/ML) projects to gather intelligence from data, make faster decisions, and predict outcomes based on data patterns. These projects benefit from an IT management strategy that leverages cloud services and innovates on premises and in the cloud.

Another example of the increased agility and modernisation in ANZ healthcare IT is the response to Australia’s bushfires in 2019 and the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020. Australian governmental and public-private health partnerships had to rapidly reshape healthcare service delivery, innovating in telehealth, virtual health services like mental health and aged care, artificial intelligence (AI), healthcare interoperability, health informatics, e-referral, and booking capabilities. Application and IT teams at healthcare organisations have a broad remit – to spin up new infrastructure, manage growing databases and data lakes, establish processes for analysing and visualising data to make decisions, and develop new code and front-end solutions for patients and healthcare customers to access. Rapid innovation became a top priority, whether customers were running applications fully in the cloud, leveraging on-prem and cloud infrastructure, or running only on-premises.

Healthcare Innovation starts with the right foundations

In this podcast, Rajaneesh Kurup explores the importance of getting the digital infrastructure right in healthcare and connected care and discusses the potential and opportunities it opens up for collaboration and innovation within the broader healthcare ecosystem, and lots more.

Group of happy doctor surgeon and nurse with VR headset, virtual reality technology on white background, Healthcare and medical concept

IT Modernisation to better serve patients

The surge in digital medical data, from health records to high-resolution imagery, coupled with increased demand for COVID-19 related services including telehealth or supporting clinical staff working from home, have forced a shift. Healthcare and life sciences CIOs and CTOs in Australia are now no longer simply keeping the IT infrastructure running, but are using IT to transform and innovate quickly to meet changing user and patient needs.

Technology vendors and the healthcare providers they serve have an opportunity provided by the revolution in healthcare service delivery to modernise their IT architecture to better serve patients, maintain regulatory compliance, drive research collaboration, and prepare for more intelligent healthcare services running closer to the network edge.

Trusted technology vendors can help healthcare providers focus on patient care by taking over the IT infrastructure role. This starts with the creation of a long-term plan to optimise infrastructure design and connecting with the AWS Partner Network and Equinix’s rich digital ecosystem, which includes health tech providers, technology providers, cloud service providers, network service providers, and managed service providers.

Modern Edge Innovations

While most applications can run in the cloud in the AWS Sydney Region or upcoming Melbourne Region, some workloads have low latency or local data processing needs that AWS Outposts in on-premises locations can address. For these workloads, modern edge compute technology placed near the healthcare providers and healthcare partners provides opportunities for healthcare IT to digitally transform on-premises while working towards broader cloud usage in the future. By collaborating with Amazon Web Services (AWS) and Equinix to build edge compute and connectivity, healthcare providers can attain low latency, improve application performance, meeting data residency needs while innovating on premises with AWS services including for AI and Machine Learning (ML). This collaboration also provides access to other healthcare and partners to further accelerate innovation.

AWS Outposts is a fully managed service that offers the same AWS infrastructure, AWS services, application programming interfaces (APIs), and tools to virtually any data centre, co-location space, or on-premises facility for a truly consistent hybrid experience. AWS Outposts supports low latency and local processing needs and makes it possible for healthcare providers to run select AWS services directly on AWS-managed infrastructure in Equinix International Business Exchange™ (IBX®) facilities. Equinix also brings Equinix Fabric™ connectivity to provide secure low latency connectivity to an AWS Region and other digital ecosystem providers, making it possible to quickly process healthcare data such as 3D imaging files on-site and run AI/ML both on AWS Outposts and back in the AWS Region through Equinix Fabric.

Having consistent infrastructure, services, APIs, and tools between AWS Outposts and the AWS Regions also means that healthcare application developers can write their application once and deploy it on AWS Outposts in any Equinix IBX facility around the world with minimal application changes. CIOs and CTOs can ensure their teams spend less time keeping their infrastructure up and running, and more time on delivering a digital infrastructure foundation that fuels faster healthcare and life science innovation.

Healthcare providers can begin using cloud services by migrating workloads to AWS Outposts with Equinix, enabling modernisation and collaborative innovation for greater knowledge-sharing. In Asia-Pacific, research agencies, academia, healthcare providers, and pharmaceutical firms are spread across geographic regions and different cloud environments. This diversity of deployment pushes the need to build points of presence and interconnection between partners in key healthcare research and development hubs around the world.

Health and Life Sciences Bandwidth Growth

The Global Interconnection Index (GXI) Vol 5 , a report recently published by Equinix, projected that interconnection bandwidth for healthcare and life sciences could reach a combined annual growth rate of 47% by 2023 – a trend that started before the COVID-19 pandemic hit.

While patients are making fewer trips to hospitals or clinics, the digital investments in not only telehealth but also life sciences provide new channels to reach potential clinical trial participants, which can provide researchers access to more diverse populations. Conducting decentralised clinical trials can utilise edge technologies such as AWS Outposts with Equinix Fabric to help securely move high volumes of medical data between multiple locations anywhere across the world on a highly resilient and secure platform.

Healthcare IT will underpin hybrid deployments of health technology and digital forms of care delivery, enabled by local processing and data residency using the latest edge architecture and cloud adjacency. Outcomes will include reduced latency, improved application performance, and innovation both on-premises and in the cloud.

Healthcare providers can achieve greater agility and tap into multiple cloud technologies and transform on-premises infrastructure by taking a distributed approach to healthcare IT architecture and placing managed edge infrastructure at or near health facilities. Furthermore, healthcare providers stand to benefit from access to the rich ecosystem of participants within Platform Equinix to integrate innovative services, including telehealth video appointments, personalised medicine, and future medical techniques like robot-assisted surgery, providing a differentiated experience for patients and caregivers.

[1] https://www2.deloitte.com/au/en/pages/media-releases/articles/telehealth-boom-australia-leads-way-commercialising-womens-sports-5g-health-risk-perception-wane-160321.html

[2] https://www.myhealthrecord.gov.au/sites/default/files/my_health_record_dashboard_-_26_may_2019.pdf?v=1561352401

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Rajaneesh Kurup Director, Equinix Research Group, APAC
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Stephanie Louis Guest Author: Sr. Go-to-Market Specialist at AWS
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