Interview with Jean Pierre Horne, Head of Healthcare, AWS South Africa

The future of healthcare in the cloud

AWS is helping to empower the public sector by enabling transformational thinking needed to solve critical healthcare problems, says Jean Pierre Horne, Head of Healthcare, AWS South Africa.

In 2006, Amazon Web Services (AWS) began offering IT infrastructure services to businesses in the form of web services – now commonly known as cloud computing. One of the key benefits of cloud computing is the opportunity to replace up-front capital infrastructure expenses with low variable costs that scale with a business.

Thanks to the cloud, businesses no longer need to plan for and procure servers and other IT infrastructure weeks or months in advance. Instead, they can instantly spin up hundreds or thousands of servers in minutes and deliver results faster. Today, AWS provides a highly reliable, scalable, low-cost infrastructure platform in the cloud that powers hundreds of thousands of businesses in 190 countries worldwide.

In an interview with Africa Health, Jean Pierre Horne, Head of Healthcare, AWS South Africa, said: “AWS is the trusted technology and innovation partner to the global healthcare and life sciences industry, providing unmatched reliability, security, and data privacy. This year at Africa Health 2021, we would like to introduce AWS for Health, an offering of AWS services and AWS Partner Network solutions used by thousands of healthcare and life sciences customers globally. AWS for Health provides proven and easily accessible capabilities that help organisations increase the pace of innovation, unlock the potential of health data and develop more personalised approaches to therapeutic development and care.”

When asked about how AWS has responded to the COVID-19 crisis, Horne said that the company is providing highly scalable and reliable infrastructure capacity, technical support, and AWS services to help customers with their research, remote work and learning, and other solutions. This is to address their needs and the effects the pandemic is having on communities and businesses.

Accelerating the pace of innovation

Facing a robust set of challenges from the rising cost of healthcare to physician burnout to the inconsistent, complex nature of health data, healthcare and life science organisations are today increasingly adopting machine learning to accelerate the pace of innovation and improve efficiency.

“With AWS machine learning, healthcare providers, payers, pharmaceutical companies, startups, ISVs and IT vendors are improving and accelerating diagnosis, managing population health, enabling drug discovery, and modernising care infrastructure at a global scale,” Horne explained.

He shared that AWS machine learning empowers healthcare and life science organisations to make sense of their health data with purpose-built health AI services and a comprehensive machine learning platform. In addition, the company delivers unmatched reliability, security, and data privacy. AWS machine learning focuses on three key areas:

1.      Make sense of health data: Understand and extract meaningful medical information from raw, disparate health data with advanced analytics and machine learning capabilities, such as natural language processing, to identify trends and make predictions.

2.      Increase the pace of innovation: Companies can accelerate the adoption of machine learning with purpose-built health AI services and a comprehensive machine learning service to reduce costs, drive efficiency, and quickly adapt to new challenges.

3.      Build on a trusted platform: AWS offers a mature, secure, and reliable cloud platform with a deep understanding of healthcare industry regulations (e.g. HIPAA, HITRUST, GDPR) and consistent data transparency and control to protect patient privacy.

“At AWS, we are continuously innovating and working backwards from our customers’ needs,” emphasised Horne. “Major focuses for us in the healthcare market segment would be driving innovation in diagnostic imaging, store, analyse and provide data-driven insights into healthcare data, hospital modernisations and migration to the cloud, genomics and digital front door solutions for public and private health customers.”

He illustrates the company’s commitment to digital transformation by sharing the example of the AWS HealthUp programme for thought-leading health organisations seeking to build the future of digital healthcare. It provides innovation guidance built on the foundation of a signed strategic alliance agreement between AWS and the organisation. The AWS Health Up programme is available to a select number of leading hospitals, clinics, government health bodies, or healthcare information systems providers in South Africa and abroad.