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Stackato Evangelism: Part Five Healthcare in the Cloud

HaleyC ‎10-06-2016 09:11 AM - edited ‎10-06-2016 10:11 AM

 

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  Post by Guest Author, TIm Clayton, MBS

“During the first sprint a lot of my time was spend helping the freshers to understand coding in the cloud. By the time the second sprint came around, it was just a case of helping them out from time to time. Their excitement in learning the new skills soon made them experts.”

During the previous blogs in this series, a pattern has emerged. Taking an application to the cloud has often been a case of needing an environment that can scale or shrink to fit seasonal demands or expand at speed when sudden growth occurs. Today’s solution is a little different…

Healthcare is certainly an area where cloud computing is seen as being essential to the future, but the sheer volume of data that needs transferring can mean that the industry lags behind others in surprising ways.

My own father is now retired but he spent the final decade of his working life as part of the European datacenter team for one of HPE’s rivals. It was in the mid-nineties that he and his team were involved in a bid for the British National Health Service. The core component of the project at hand was transferring patient records from paper into a digital database. The final transfers of patient records onto the servers did not take place until well into this millennium.

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This may seem surprising, as healthcare is now aided so much by IT advances, but it is an industry that is particularly challenging as it has massive amounts of data that can potentially be useful (the lifetime record of each individual patient, historical records of every hospital and every machine in the land, stocks and supplies, etc., ad infintum), as well as being bound by particularly strict confidentiality and PII laws. The benefits of dragging healthcare into the latest technological era have always been self-evident, but the task has often been too daunting for companies to really face up to.

HPE stepped up to one such challenge by creating the HPE Healthcare Portal Solution, which brings together disparate back-end systems into a unified view so that government agencies can consolidate health information to members or customers, eliminating or reducing potential redundant treatment costs, and delivering meaningful health information to healthcare providers. Once this had been achieved, the next logical step was to contact Jayadeva Babu and the Cloud-native Development Team and see about taking the solution into the cloud.

“The need for scalability is slightly different to other industries where cloud is perfect for unpredictable compute needs or for expected growth. In healthcare the volumes of data are massive but they are quite stable and predictable,” says Jayadeva. This means that the real advantage of going into the cloud is not necessarily based on the needs of today—HPE already has a functional .net solution that works from the mainframe and can serve healthcare organizations capably. The reason for moving to cloud is keeping one eye on the future. Rather than spend years playing catch-up like the National Health Service did in my father’s day, having a cloud solution that is capable of scaling as soon as the need arises is good business sense. In just a few years we will probably be dealing with an explosion of data from personal health trackers or converged big data systems. Having a solution in place that is ready for the inevitability of such scale-up operations is not just smart business but essential if providers want to ensure the best patient care and service. 

“We have only been working on the cloud-native portal for two month-long sprint cycles. The first was all about working on the back-end architecture of the solution. The biggest challenge was ensuring seamless access to the database in the cloud-native version. It took some deep thought but we managed to solve the problem by changing the type of the database driver.

“The current second sprint is about developing the UX dashboard. We have taken care of the background and are now involved in creating the user interface,” says Jayadeva, who has pioneered the cloud version with his colleagues Akhil and Swathi, along with the support of Tim Jacoby from Healthcare Solutions who helped the team to understand the nuances of writing an application specific to the industry.

 One interesting aspect of this is that, in contrast to the previous NDC Adaptor application, the team are not writing the code from scratch. By adding to and adapting existing .net code, they are able to create a finished cloud solution that will run better but will also be familiar to the developers. It is a smart way of doing things. It takes an expert to build the architecture of the cloud application, but normal .net developers can maintain and update the finished solution.

And this brings us to the end of my conversations with some of our pioneering cloud-native developers. Every solution was different and the processes were never quite the same; the one unifying factor is that everything they learn along the way is being open-sourced and propagated to the second generation of cloud-native developers.

 The most fascinating next step for me is to see how these developers continue their work. We have seen four solutions split by industry: healthcare, transport, finance, and retail. It will be interesting to see if the developers stay split by industry and become cloud-native experts in one particular realm or if they move around industries as the projects come in. Jayadeva can certainly see the advantage of having worked on these four separate industries to create the first proofs of concept: “Any developer can implement code from a given vertical and deploy the final solution, but being an industry expert is essential when creating the architecture. I’ve learnt about the particular challenges connected to healthcare, just as others have learnt about other verticals. It takes an in-depth knowledge to start building a solution and our teams can then take on the later work once the foundations have been laid with a fundamental understanding of the needs.”

Find out more about Stackato Evangelism by contacting Mudasser Zaheer.

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About the Author

HaleyC

I manage the HPE Helion social media brand accounts promoting the enterprise cloud solutions at HPE for hybrid, public, and private clouds.I have put my toes in the ocean of cloud evangelism for the enterprise IT industry. But my expertise is in Social Media and Digital Marketing.

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