AWS Public Sector Blog

Three ways Health and Human Services agencies benefit from the cloud

Photo by Michael Daniels on Unsplash

Photo by Michael Daniels on Unsplash


Health and human services (HHS) agencies are in the midst of dramatic change, with ever-growing transaction volumes and increasing demand for new services and visibility into data. Looking for new ways to manage constituent demands, the agencies are turning to the cloud to run mission-critical applications that administer healthcare and social benefits programs for millions of beneficiaries, resulting improved system agility, security, and costs.

Why HHS agencies are moving to cloud

Transforming legacy systems with modern technologies enables advanced analytics, service delivery improvements, and digital transformation. Whether an agency’s focus is modernization, building healthier communities, or transforming payment and care delivery models, HHS agencies can turn to the cloud to help:

1. Improve overall data security while streamlining regulatory compliance.

As an agency’s application and data footprint grows, implementing security controls and maintaining regulatory compliance can become difficult.

AWS Key Management Service enables encryption at rest and integrates with AWS Identity and Access Management (IAM) to provide fine-grained access control and secure constituent data across all services. Amazon GuardDuty provides advanced machine learning evaluation of access patterns for insight into the security of the environment, while AWS Security Hub provides a single point of monitoring for security events across all AWS accounts.

To build an environment tailored to their specific security and compliance requirements, such as HIPAA and IRS Publication 1075, HHS agencies can use the Shared Responsibility Model and AWS security controls and AWS Quick Starts.

2. Build flexible, resilient applications using technology to address new program and constituent needs.

Improving access to and delivery of beneficiary services through the cloud improves social outcomes, like reduced time to delivery of services, more accurate delivery of benefits, and anytime self-service benefits application. By lowering the barrier to services, beneficiaries who previously found the process onerous or inconvenient can now use modern applications and service delivery (i.e. mobile and self-service) that align with their schedules.

AWS enables HHS customers to build long-term technology roadmaps that are not bound by current application architectures or technology stacks. With the cloud, agencies have options to transition away from expensive commercial database offerings and modernize applications by using the right database for each workload or service. This includes platform migrations to lower cost and managed database and data warehouse services like Amazon Aurora or Amazon Redshift. Container services like AWS Fargate, or fully serverless with AWS Lambda, allows customers to run code without provisioning or managing servers.

For example, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) turned to AWS to launch three new features for the website, including an identity management system, a feature for comparing insurance plans, and a tool to determine eligibility for specific plans based on a consumer’s income and other variables. By using AWS, CMS delivers a stable and highly scalable set of features capable of handling hundreds of thousands of simultaneous users during peak insurance signup periods.

3. Extract insights from data to help build programs and advocate for innovative policy changes to serve constituents.

HHS customers are building the next generation of public health systems and adopting data-driven approaches to improve outcomes for the at-risk populations they serve.

AWS enables customers to securely store and manage volumes of data for predictive analytics, machine learning, and advanced business intelligence. Amazon Simple Storage Service (Amazon S3) provides a highly durable and secure foundation for building data lakes. AWS Glue provides a fully managed Extract, Transform, and Load (ETL) service to support automating data analytics pipelines and ML applications.

For example, Washington Health Care Authority is adopting AWS analytics services to provide insights that help address the opioid epidemic and drive positive public health outcomes.

Agencies are also using the power of the cloud for data lakes, security and compliance, big data analytics, database migration, and data governance. Learn more about AWS for health and human services agencies and how health and human service agencies like the State of Maryland used the cloud to transform its citizen services and read more in the Maryland Department of Human Services case study.

And watch this video to learn how AWS is helping health and human service agencies provide vital services to vulnerable and at risk constituents across the country.