RONIN Uses AWS to Help Digital Health Cooperative Research Centre Identify Health Trends and Enable Compliance

RONIN is an AWS Select Consulting Partner

Executive Summary

RONIN’s Cloud Orchestration Platform and Amazon Web Services (AWS) help Australia’s Digital Health Cooperative Research Centre (DHCRC) launch research environments in under 10 minutes, cut compute costs by 60 percent, and accelerate research. RONIN, an AWS Public Sector Partner, implemented an AWS-based environment that DHCRC uses to drive population health data research.

Seeking Secure, Fast Access to Patient Claims Data

Australia’s Digital Health Cooperative Research Centre (DHCRC) is committed to identifying and solving today's most pressing healthcare issues through collaborative research. The organization is a multidisciplinary task force of 72 organizations, including universities and health technology providers, that combine individual and collective expertise with data, information, and telecommunication technologies.

As part of its mission, DHCRC recently established access rights to a set of limited claims data produced by Health Management Systems Inc. (HMS), a healthcare technology company that provides analytics solutions to help payers and employers manage costs and improve outcomes. “The HMS data provides the foundation for research projects across the globe,” says Dr. Michael Costello, Interim Chief Executive Officer of DHCRC. “However, we needed a technology platform that would enable us to manage the data centrally while still giving researchers self-service capabilities. Additionally, this is sensitive patient data and we had to ensure it was compliant with data protection regulations across two jurisdictions.”

DHCRC also needed to implement its new solution quickly, so researchers could get started on their research. To meet this requirement, DHCRC sought technology that was highly scalable and easy to deploy.

Implementing the RONIN Research Platform on AWS

To address its needs, DHCRC engaged RONIN, an Australian technology services provider, to create a new big data research environment based on the AWS Cloud. RONIN is an AWS Select Consulting Partner and an AWS Public Sector Partner. “We saw this as a great opportunity to help DHCRC automate its research platform to get up and running quickly and also have strong access control,” says Byron Low, Vice President of Global Operations for RONIN.

RONIN implemented an AWS-based orchestration and collaboration platform that researchers can easily access via a web application. The application environment runs on Amazon Elastic Compute Cloud (Amazon EC2) instances and uses Amazon Simple Storage Service (Amazon S3) buckets to store multiple terabytes of research data. RONIN also implemented AWS Auto Scaling clusters that automatically adjust compute capacity and Amazon Elastic Block Store (Amazon EBS) for scalable block storage.

Research Environments Launched in 10 Minutes

Using the RONIN platform, DHCRC researchers can launch complex compute resources within minutes and take advantage of dashboards to track projects in real time. With the orchestration layer built into the solution, DHCRC can also centrally manage an environment while easily scaling it up or down as needed. “Researchers can be up and running in 10 minutes using RONIN on AWS, even if they don’t have technical skills,” says Low. Instead of spending nine months in meetings, acquiring hardware, and testing to start a research project, researchers at DHCRC can begin collaborating immediately regardless of their location. “This technology frees researchers from IT management, server procurement, and other constraints of on-premises environments,” says Low. “Instead, researchers at DHCRC can focus entirely on the research itself.”

“Researchers can be up and running in 10 minutes using RONIN on AWS, even if they don’t have technical skills. This technology frees researchers from IT management, server procurement, and other constraints of on-premises environments. Instead, researchers at DHCRC can focus entirely on the research itself.”

- Byron Low, Vice President of Global Operations, RONIN

With its new cloud research capabilities, DHCRC now has a secure research environment for analyzing population health data variations, using the HMS data set to compare patient records. DHCRC, in collaboration with the University of Canberra, recently used HMS data to develop a health atlas for spatially based decision support, so Medicaid agencies can support better allocation and understand which people utilize which resources and where. As a result, Medicaid agencies will gain the ability to perform on-demand analyses without needing to change their infrastructure.

In two other projects, DHCRC worked with Western Sydney University and Stanford University (California, United States) to use linked HMS claims data to gain a deeper understanding of patterns of opioid prescriptions and opioid treatment. One of the projects was focused on early identification, education, and monitoring of patients who may be at risk of developing opioid dependency while the other aimed to understand the factors that influence substance abuse and medication-assisted treatment.

Enabling Data Protection and Compliance

DHCRC is meeting its stringent data protection requirements by using secure Amazon S3 buckets for storing medical data, which helps DHCRC prove that every bucket created meets the organization’s strict standards for security and access control for HMS data. In the US, the organization’s deployment is in an HMS-owned account, where the data never leaves the jurisdiction and DHCRC never has to copy the data set to another infrastructure owned by a third party. As a result, DHCRC protects itself and HMS from risk. DHCRC also meets patient data privacy regulations in both the US and Australia. “We can tightly control access to the research environment with the built-in security in AWS and the RONIN platform,” says Costello.

Reducing Compute Costs by 60%

By using the RONIN platform on AWS, DHCRC can lower its research compute costs by scaling the environment up or down for each project. “Organizations like DHCRC can reduce their compute costs by 60 percent just by clicking a few buttons to scale down an environment when a research project is completed,” says Low. For example, DHCRC no longer wastes resources for compute and storage when they aren’t needed. Using AWS, there is more cost optimization and researchers can put more resources into the research itself instead of the infrastructure.

DHCRC plans to expand its use of RONIN and AWS to drive future initiatives. “This kind of technology will enable us to continue meeting our customer needs while helping us support our mission of improving the quality of healthcare through evidence-based research projects,” Costello says.

Digital Health Cooperative Research Centre

About Digital Health Cooperative Research Centre

Digital Health Cooperative Research Centre (DHCRC) is an Australian-based research consortium that partners with universities and industry and government organizations to deliver transformational outcomes through expertise in health data research.

About RONIN

RONIN is an Australian-based technology services provider and an AWS Public Sector Partner. The company offers an AWS-based orchestration and collaboration platform that researchers can access via a web application.

Published December 2020