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Healthvana Delivers Over 50 Million US Health Records Using AWS Services


Healthvana delivered over 50 million health records to patients on behalf of healthcare providers, including county and city agencies. Its mission is to help providers engage, communicate, and manage their patient populations and to empower patients to make important healthcare decisions. To facilitate the secure delivery of this sensitive information, Healthvana required a highly scalable infrastructure and strict compliance with HIPAA regulations. Since 2015, it has built its infrastructure stack on Amazon Web Services (AWS) to deliver records securely and quickly. 

This workflow required Healthvana to use several AWS services, including Amazon ECS with AWS Fargate—a serverless, pay-as-you-go compute engine—as its primary workflow orchestrator. On AWS, Healthvana delivered millions of sensitive test results to patients through their mobile phones while complying with HIPAA regulations. It has also used highly scalable AWS services to quickly expand its services and support emerging needs; this was particularly important during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Protected health professional Testing for Coronavirus a patient in a home visit.

AWS sets the gold standard for cloud computing services. We can concentrate on developing code rather than managing low-level infrastructure.”

Jim Cooley
Vice President of Engineering, Healthvana


Delivering Sensitive Test Results to Millions of Patients

Healthvana delivers HIPAA-compliant health records to patients using a simple-to-use mobile solution. Prior to 2020, it focused primarily on sexual health services, such as HIV and AIDS testing. As agencies struggled to quickly deliver test results during the COVID-19 pandemic, often to underserved populations, Healthvana expanded. “We deliver very sensitive health information to patients who urgently need it,” says Jim Cooley, vice president of engineering at Healthvana. “It was a natural fit to start delivering COVID-19 test results to patients, beginning with Los Angeles County before expanding to the rest of the country.” 

Healthvana relies on multiple AWS services. For example, its data services team uses Amazon Redshift—which uses SQL to analyze structured and semi-structured data across data warehouses, operational databases, and data lakes—as well as AWS Database Migration Service (AWS DMS), which lets customers migrate databases to AWS quickly and securely, to provide near-real-time analytics to both internal and external users. Healthvana chose AWS for scalability as well as access to a cost-effective development environment. “AWS sets the gold standard for cloud computing services,” says Cooley. “We can concentrate on developing code rather than managing low-level infrastructure. AWS offers solutions that we need, freeing our developers to do what they’re best at.” Healthvana can also configure AWS services to process, maintain, and store protected health information, meaning that it can confidentially report information to patients while meeting HIPAA requirements.

Supporting Critical Services for Healthcare Organizations

Rapid test results are critical to limiting the spread of disease, keeping people at work, and supporting critical activities, like contact tracing. On AWS, Healthvana has scaled its services to deliver over 35 million COVID-19 test results and COVID-19 vaccination records. Patients can also add a new COVID-19 vaccination dose to their existing records, but only if they previously received one directly from their healthcare provider. Patients can upload an image of a Center for Disease Control vaccination card with the new dose, which is validated before the record is updated. This is performed using Amazon Textract, a machine learning service that automatically extracts text, handwriting, and data from scanned documents. “Patients have uploaded over 30,000 COVID-19 vaccination records,” says Cooley. “This scale is facilitated by Amazon Textract, which makes sure that each upload is an actual vaccination card.” When a patient uploads a vaccination record, a function on AWS Lambda—a serverless, event-driven compute service—communicates with the web service. Then, Healthvana uses Amazon Textract to assess each record’s authenticity. These solutions have vastly reduced manual labor for first responders and healthcare employees, who no longer need to manually validate records or communicate test results to patients. 

Healthvana powers production and testing environments using Amazon Elastic Compute Cloud (Amazon EC2) Spot Instances, which let users take advantage of unused Amazon EC2 capacity in the AWS cloud. The company has reduced its testing costs by using Amazon EC2 Spot Instances over using Amazon EC2 On-Demand Instances, which lets companies pay for compute capacity by the hour or second. Healthvana also adopted a capacity-optimized strategy to lower the number of interruptions to close to zero. Additionally, it has reduced overall Amazon EC2 costs by 10 percent by configuring Amazon EC2 Spot Instances to aggressively scale down when not in use. “On AWS, we get the scale that we need when we need it,” says Cooley. “We also reduce costs when we aren’t using our testing infrastructure. This scalability has been huge for us.” Using Amazon EC2 Spot Instances, Healthvana has accelerated its speed to market; its development team can release new features and product updates several times per day. It can also ship code up to 10 times per day using its AWS-powered testing environment, which runs 92 test suites in parallel. By implementing a tight production cycle, Healthvana continually enhances the user experience. In fact, 98.5 percent of users say that they are satisfied with the company’s service. To further improve the scalability and efficiency of its infrastructure, Healthvana is planning to migrate its production environment from Amazon EC2 to Amazon ECS with AWS Fargate. 

Healthvana’s data team has also expanded its skill set on AWS. “We’ve been able to scale our capabilities to include natural language processing, machine learning, and data ingestion from lots of different sources,” says Mike Kunc, senior DevOps and data engineer at Healthvana. “On AWS, we’ve been able to build out these capabilities without having to scale the number of people on our team.” The data team relies on Amazon ECS with AWS Fargate to run extract, transform, load jobs as well as connect to its data warehouse on Amazon Redshift and its data lake on Amazon Simple Storage Service (Amazon S3)—an object storage service offering industry-leading scalability, data availability, security, and performance. 

Healthvana uses its Amazon Redshift data warehouse to quickly generate critical customer reports. “On Amazon Redshift, our data warehouse is updated in near real time,” says Cooley. “We can deliver reports on the same day that our customers submit a request. We wouldn’t have been able to do this if our data warehouse was updated overnight or at a larger interval.”

Refining Patient Communications Infrastructure on AWS

By building a mobile-first service on AWS, Healthvana has gained the scalability and security necessary to deliver sensitive health information to patients. In the future, the company will continue to build and expand its capabilities on AWS, such as migrating more services to its data lake. “We have a lot of confidence in the security of the data migrations and data ingestion on Amazon S3,” says Cooley. “We are excited to move in new directions on AWS.”

About Healthvana

Healthvana delivers a patient communication platform that helps healthcare providers engage, communicate, and manage their patient populations. Since 2015, the startup has helped deliver over 50 million health records.

Benefits of AWS

  • Delivered over 50 million health records
  • Complies with HIPAA requirements
  • Validated over 30,000 vaccination records
  • Accelerated speed to market
  • Achieved 98.5% user satisfaction rate
  • Generates same-day reports for customers
  • Reduced AWS costs by 10% after reconfiguring Amazon EC2 Spot Instances
  • Reduces time spent handling health record requests for first responders and healthcare employees

AWS Services Used

AWS Fargate

AWS Fargate is a serverless, pay-as-you-go compute engine that lets you focus on building applications without managing servers. AWS Fargate is compatible with both Amazon Elastic Container Service (ECS) and Amazon Elastic Kubernetes Service (EKS).

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Amazon Redshift

Amazon Redshift uses SQL to analyze structured and semi-structured data across data warehouses, operational databases, and data lakes, using AWS-designed hardware and machine learning to deliver the best price performance at any scale.

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Amazon Simple Storage Service (Amazon S3)

Amazon Simple Storage Service (Amazon S3) is an object storage service offering industry-leading scalability, data availability, security, and performance.

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Amazon Textract

Amazon Textract is a machine learning (ML) service that automatically extracts text, handwriting, and data from scanned documents. It goes beyond simple optical character recognition (OCR) to identify, understand, and extract data from forms and tables.

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