Bio-Rad utilizes AWS Systems Manager to construct an IoT device, empowering their Next Generation Quality Control Informatics Solution
This blog is guest-authored by Jasmina Desai, Associate Director, Software Architecture at Bio-Rad Laboratories, Inc.
The key to success for clinical diagnostics labs is a precise and accurate result with every run. As a trusted provider, Bio-Rad Laboratories (Bio-Rad) offers independent quality control products that help streamline workflows, reduce errors, maintain compliance, and facilitate accreditation — improving efficiency and saving money.
An example of quality control in a clinical lab is the analysis of blood glucose levels for diabetic patients. To ensure accurate and reliable results, the lab regularly runs control samples with known glucose concentrations alongside patient samples. These control samples act as a reference standard, allowing lab technicians to monitor the performance and accuracy of the glucose testing instruments and reagents.
Unity Next, a Next Generation Quality Control Informatics Platform, empowers labs to meet compliance with instant access to peer reporting in a centralized, user-friendly platform. Built on a well architected AWS foundation and supported by comprehensive QC data, this platform helps optimize Quality Control processes, confidently make decisions to mitigate QC errors and help protect patient safety.
For years, clinical labs have benefited from Bio-Rad’s quality control informatics platform. Bio-Rad’s Clinical Diagnostics Group aims to transition its current connectivity solutions to a contemporary infrastructure, resulting in reduced operational expenses. This strategy will streamline the multitude of connectivity options into a unified set of standardized configurations, prioritizing scalability and support. Consequently, the onboarding process for customers will become more efficient and less time-consuming. Recognizing the need to modernize, Bio-Rad is piloting the next-generation of its solution—a connected, cloud-based SaaS platform, built using Amazon Web Services (AWS).
The latest IoT solution brings in the following benefits:
- Efficiently gathers quality control data from lab equipment, including instruments, middleware, and the laboratory information system (LIS)
- Securely transmitting it to the cloud for centralized monitoring
- Remote maintenance of the device fleet simplifies the process for field service engineers (FSEs) to push updates remotely.
This new solution effectively lowers support costs while enhancing customer satisfaction. “We can tackle the challenge posed by different labs using various software versions through remote updates,” explains Jasmina Desai, Associate Director of Bio-Rad’s Clinical Diagnostics Group.
Building a Fully Automated Quality Control Solution Using AWS
Leveraging a serverless architecture on AWS, Bio-Rad has successfully engineered a fully automated solution. This innovative system efficiently extracts quality control data from various lab equipment, centralizing it in the cloud. Furthermore, it offers labs a seamless way to share information, ultimately enhancing the consistency of testing devices for the benefit of patients.
The solution uses AWS Systems Manager, a secure, complete management solution for resources on AWS and in multi-cloud and hybrid environments. It runs an edge device that acts as a conduit between the lab and the cloud—connecting to the instrument, the lab information system, middleware, and other software without any special IT requirements. “Using AWS Systems Manager makes it a plug-and-play box to get the data off all the instruments.”, says Desai. “The solution can scale to accommodate a global footprint of edge devices. And customers can choose to run the connectivity software on their own hardware or as a virtual machine.”
The solution also uses AWS IoT Core, which lets organizations connect billions of Internet of Things devices and route trillions of messages to AWS services without managing infrastructure. Using AWS IoT Core, the solution collects and centralizes data in AWS Systems Manager. After the device is up and running, it registers itself in the cloud using AWS Systems Manager, sending information back to Bio-Rad about the edge device’s location and serial number. This allows Bio-Rad to remotely maintain and monitor the health of all the edge devices centrally from its AWS Console. “Our authorized DevOps personnel go to the AWS Systems Manager, and they can view all the connected devices in the fleet.”, says Desai.
“Using digital twin technology we have centralized the intelligence on the cloud, creating a virtual representation of each device,” elaborates Desai. “Through this digital twin, we synchronize all devices with the same software version, removing the necessity to decipher varying software versions in each lab. This centralized and remote approach, facilitated by digital twin integration, remarkably streamlines processes, ultimately resulting in heightened customer satisfaction.”
Commencing in mid-2022, Bio-Rad launched the pilot phase of the new solution, providing customers with succinct instructions for remote connection. “We offered straightforward guidance on device setup, and the pilot customers adeptly followed the instructions,” says Desai. The process went smoothly, without any technical support queries from customers, enabling a seamless transition from on-premises to cloud-based operations.”
Incorporating Security Controls in the New Software Solution
Bio-Rad recognized that a crucial obstacle to adopting the new solution would be concerns about security. The new solution employs a single Secure Sockets Layer (SSL) port, providing a plug-and-play connection. It uses AWS services with built-in security controls. “We can provide customers with complete assurance regarding the robust security of our solution and showcase its security capabilities,” explains Desai. “By utilizing HIPAA-eligible services on AWS, we send a clear message that we entrust our data to an industry-leading cloud provider renowned for its exceptional security and compliance standards.”
Educating Customers on the Value of Modernized Solutions
The automated QC data flow to the cloud has led to reduced support costs and heightened customer satisfaction. This solution overcomes the connectivity challenge in clinical labs, transforming the conventional manual data uploads into seamless and secure automated uploads. Consequently, it paves the way for an enhanced lab experience, unlocking a multitude of possibilities for improvement.
As Bio-Rad endeavors to modernize its offerings, it aims to advocate for its connected solutions. The company seeks to educate customers on the advantages of adopting secure and modernized solutions, automating tasks that were once heavily reliant on manual processes. “We demonstrate how the cloud can unleash innovation and business insights that were previously confined on-premises, closes Jasmina. “For labs, the primary concern has been how to extract their data. Our AWS-based solution securely facilitates the transfer of data from the lab to the cloud.”