Data-driven, cloud-powered healthcare command center
Hospital emergency departments (EDs) can be hectic places. Patients arrive 24/7—without warning, needing different types of care, and with various levels of urgency. Some are quickly treated and released, some need imaging, labs, or specialty consults, and many are routed to other departments or transported to other facilities.
To help manage the ED, as well as other departments within hospitals, Leidos developed a Command Center application, a software solution that collects data at every stop on a patient’s journey and then recommends in real-time where and when staff, beds, or equipment is needed or excessive. This helps administrators and clinicians redeploy resources and make the best decisions to improve patient care, safety, and satisfaction.
“If you’re an administrator or clinician, you need to be able to see the delays and bottlenecks in your operation,” says Lindsey Stroop, Product Manager for the ED Command Center. “If a patient has been waiting too long or results are overdue, the Command Center will present that information to you, at the precise point you need it, in a streamlined view.” This type of information has become even more critical, as hospitals diagnose, treat, and quarantine COVID-19 patients. Moving these patients seamlessly through the hospital requires communication and real-time data to ensure safety and compliance.
One of the challenges in deploying the application was ensuring effective handling of the massive and continually growing streams of data from the multiple clinical and administrative departments that feed the application’s Command Center. Amazon Web Services (AWS) provided a full solution, by allocating exactly the right amount of storage and automatically growing it on an as-needed basis. “AWS does all the work in fitting the capabilities to the application’s needs,” says Stroop. “And as new clients come on, we can bring them right into the cloud.”
Because the Command Center is constantly ingesting multiple streams of data—most of which has to be preserved—the amount of storage it needs continually grows. The flexible storage options offered by AWS are crucial and help keep costs low. “If customers had to store and host all the data in-house or on-premises, the costs would be considerable,” says Stroop. “With AWS, we can ramp up storage and hosting capabilities quickly and affordably.”
The cloud provides advantages in the security arena as well, something healthcare clients are especially focused on. With so much patient information included in the flow of data, all of which must be HIPAA compliant, AWS automates security tasks and encrypts data as it moves across its web services and data centers. “It’s hard for our customers to bring a full set of cybersecurity capabilities to bear on every problem that arises with every application,” says Doug Barton, Senior Vice President and Chief Technology Officer for the Health group at Leidos. “AWS can provide those additional levels of security and reliability— and do it at a lower cost.”
Not all components of applications, however, are necessarily best in the cloud. “We have a disciplined process to analyze what makes most sense in terms of costs and capabilities for meeting customer needs,” notes Barton.
But increasingly, he adds, the cloud is where most Leidos clients prefer to be. That’s because being in the cloud takes advantage of the enormous economies of scale that a provider like AWS can achieve and tends to provide more flexibility. “It’s an especially good fit if the client application demands a lot of variability in terms of being able to spin resources up and down,” he explains. “And as AWS adds new services and capabilities over time, you get immediate access to them. It would be much harder for individual clients to keep up with those capabilities in their own data centers.”
Having these and other challenges handled automatically by AWS frees up resources for both Leidos and its customers. “We can focus on the characteristics and benefits of the application,” he says, “instead of worrying about the underlying infrastructure.”
That can bring some real bottom-line benefits to clients, including lower costs, faster speed to market, and reduced risk. “When AWS can provide the needed services, it usually doesn’t make sense for us or the client to try to replicate it,” he says.