AWS Public Sector Blog

Scaling a platform for early detection of COVID-19 symptoms

In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, nonprofit organization PhysioQ launched a COVID-19 early-detection platform for families. Jordan Masys, co-founder of PhysioQ, describes how Amazon Web Services (AWS) allows PhysioQ to create and to scale a platform that not only helps detect signs of COVID-19 early, but also accelerates scientific research.

PhysioQ is a nonprofit organization that creates affordable and easy-to-use health research tools, allowing anyone—from academic researchers to everyday citizens—to conduct health-related research and further their passion for health sciences.

In February 2020, alongside the Center for Dynamical Biomarkers at Harvard Medical School, we started our mission to address the problems related to the fact that 40 percent of COVID-19 transmissions were occurring prior to an individual feeling sick or showing any symptoms of the disease. We realized that people did not have access to affordable tools that could help them self-monitor for COVID-19 early warning signs.

With this in mind, we launched NEO, a service that empowers families to early-detect COVID-19 symptoms that otherwise cannot be detected, using affordable consumer wearable devices that they already own, like wristbands and smartwatches. Through our artificial intelligence (AI) anomaly detection system, these wearable devices monitor a person’s medical vitals and then notify the user of any recognized health irregularities. Everyone using NEO has the option to donate their anonymized data to our open COVID-19 Databank, which is free and accessible to all health researchers to accelerate their COVID-19 research.

Leveraging a global cloud infrastructure to quickly scale our COVID-19 platform

PhysioQ adopted AWS at the beginning of our cloud journey. Over the years, AWS has made it easier for us to scale and launch a variety of different products and services in an efficient way while keeping costs relatively low. As we work with health data, we also needed a service that would make it easy to comply with HIPAA and other data privacy regulations.

In June 2020, NEO won the Techstars Global COVID-19 Challenge (with entries from over 70 countries), and people from around the world began asking for our services. Working with AWS enables us to have Amazon Simple Storage Service (Amazon S3) buckets in different locations throughout the world while maintaining optimal data transfer speeds, delivering low latency and high throughput. Additionally, using AWS allows us to comply with medical data storage regulations, as we utilize a variety of cost-effective storage classes while maintaining compliance with regulatory requirements like HIPAA.

For our backend, we use a serverless system with AWS Lambda, allowing us to maximize efficiency and scalability, running code without thinking about servers. This drastically increases our speed of deployment, as on-demand scaling means we do not have to worry about provisioning or managing servers. We grew from being in one country to over 12 countries in the span of three months, and thanks to AWS, our technology consumption scaled with the size of the workload.

Having been recently recognized by the World Economic Forum (WEF) as one the top COVID-19 innovations, we’ll be working with the WEF and the WHO going forward. Having access to the knowledgeable AWS support teams provides us with the confidence and know-how to further scale our solution across the globe.

Creating a global impact requires support

Running this global service can be expensive for such a small tech nonprofit like PhysioQ, and without any institutional financial support, we need to save costs wherever possible. Thanks to the AWS Promotional Credit, we can continue to develop our platform, experimenting with new services without upfront costs and with the peace of mind that AWS has our back. Using AWS means we can make our service accessible to as many people as possible, affordably, during these unprecedented times.

Learn more about AWS for nonprofits and check out more nonprofit stories.