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MercyAscot to leverage benefits of cloud for clinical data

19 October 2018

MercyAscot’s new electronic medical record system will be hosted in the cloud, allowing the organisation to leverage tools such as machine learning and advanced analytics, says Healthcare Holdings head of digital health Lloyd McCann.

The private healthcare provider signed a contract earlier this year with InterSystems to implement its TrakCare EMR and with New Zealand-based cloud computing company Umbrellar for hosting on Microsoft Azure.

Like most healthcare providers, MercyAscot has traditionally hosted its patient administration system and clinical applications onsite and was making the necessary investments in terms of hardware and support.

However, after exploring the strategic benefits of moving non-clinical data to a hosted environment over recent years, the organisation decided to leverage cloud for its clinical data when it implements the new PAS and EMR over 2019–2020.

Before Christmas, a demo version of the TrakCare application on the Microsoft Azure Stack will be deployed to confirm the technical capability.

McCann explains that with data sitting in this environment, using tools like machine learning and advanced analytics becomes easier because of the inherent flexibility and interoperability the cloud environment provides.

Mercy Radiology and MercyAscot will test some of the benefits ahead of implementing the new PAS and EMR.

“Within this environment the options are endless and it’s the environment that enables you to do these things and do them at pace,” he says.

Mercy Radiology will use Microsoft analytics capability and machine learning capabilities from a partner organisation called Aceso to analyse operational data and then build predictive models to inform decision making for the organisation. The solution will be hosted by Umbrellar on Microsoft Azure.

“Most importantly the deployment is being completed in five weeks, whereas in more traditional approaches this would take six to 10 months,” McCann says.

“This is real agile working in action – all enabled by the cloud. We’re thinking about how we’ll use a similar approach to deploy advanced clinical-decision support tools next.”

The healthcare provider first started leveraging cloud services with non-clinical data such as HR and project management-related materials, using cloud solutions and cloud-based collaboration tools.

“That’s been helpful because the organisation could learn and understand what some of the security implications were and understand the benefits from this type of approach,” says McCann.

He says there are significant cost benefits to not having to invest in additional hardware and maintaining onsite infrastructure, as well as performance benefits as the cloud providers are accustomed to doing projects at scale and minimising down time.

Umbrellar’s Auckland data centre means the clinical data will not leave the country. Back-ups/disaster recovery are also expected to be hosted within New Zealand when additional data centres are available.

McCann will present with Umbrellar’s head of cloud Dave Howden at the HiNZ Conference 2018 in Wellington next month on deploying a hybrid cloud strategy within a health organisation.

To read more about the HiNZ Conference click here >>

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