These days the promise of what “the cloud” can offer is ubiquitous across technology organizations: faster service, always-on systems, ready to support 100 customers or 100,000 in an instant! Who isn’t interested in those promises? Often for established companies like pMD though, with 20+ years under its belt, it can be tricky to decide where to begin using this magical tech.
The cloud comes with its own set of challenges out of the gate, challenges that pMD had been considering and planning for long before 2020 arrived. Appropriate research and design work is essential to ensure the responsible use of cloud technology. There are cloud vendors to vet and agreements to sign to ensure data confidentiality and HIPAA-compliance. And once all the initial legwork is done, there’s the technical feat of migrating our well-established traditional processes and computer systems to a new cloud-friendly approach - all while ensuring we don’t create any hiccups for our customers along the way.
But 2020 had different plans for us all, and after doing all the necessary prep work to begin using Amazon’s cloud, we found ourselves needing to cash in on some of those cloud promises - speed, scalability, and reliability - much earlier than expected. It was clear we needed to adjust our strategy to keep pace with the rapidly growing needs of telehealth capabilities across the country and to continue supporting providers who needed solid systems they could rely on. So we did what any good customer-obsessed company would do: we tossed our cloud roadmap and redrew it based on immediate customer needs.
Along with a boom in telehealth demand came the need for more boundary-pushing remote communications. Seemingly overnight there were more people using pMD video and voice chat for virtual visits with physicians. There were more patients contacting practices and communicating with health care providers directly over secure messaging. And there were more important pictures and documents being uploaded, downloaded, and sent between providers, patients, and families than ever before - an activity that produces large amounts of data traffic behind the scenes. By monitoring that data flowing on our systems, it became evident we could serve our customers better by moving the piece of pMD responsible for attachments and files to Amazon’s cloud.
With some careful planning and a little elbow grease, we were able to successfully migrate this small piece of pMD to Amazon’s S3 service, the same technology that helps power companies like Siemens, GE Healthcare, and 3M. Almost immediately we saw a huge benefit to everyone using pMD. Patients and providers were able to access their pictures and documents in secure chat and patient profiles faster. Files could now be accessed more reliably and consistently with fewer annoying glitches, and we were able to offer stronger-than-ever protection against accidental data loss. Thanks to our HIPAA-compliance agreement with Amazon and industry-standard encryption, it was no hassle to continue keeping sensitive data secure, just as we always have.
While we’ve only just begun to leverage the promises of what the cloud can offer, we have continued to let data inform where we need “cloud-scale” next in pMD’s evolution. This way we can ensure an ever-growing, more reliable product for our providers, health care teams, and their patients. Best of all, Amazon’s world-class security and HIPAA-compliance means we easily maintain our high standards when it comes to data protection, auditing, and compliance, allowing us to focus on speed, security, service availability, and continuing to deliver what matters most to our customers and their patients: a partner they can rely on in health care.