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MiHIN Case Study

2017

The Michigan Health Information Network Shared Services (MiHIN) is Michigan’s state-designated entity to improve health care quality, efficiency, and patient safety by sharing electronic health information statewide, helping reduce costs for patients, providers, and payers. MiHIN is a nonprofit, public/private collaboration that includes stakeholders from the state of Michigan, health-information exchanges that serve Michigan, health systems and providers, health plans/payers, pharmacies, and the governor’s Health Information Technology Commission.

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We’re a much more responsive and agile organization using AWS, and that helps us grow our organization.”

Tim Pletcher
Executive Director, MiHIN

The Challenge

Every week, more than 12 million patient health information messages pass through the MiHIN network. “Every time a hospital in the state admits, transfers or discharges a patient, MiHIN receives a notification,” says Tim Pletcher, executive director for MiHIN. However, the organization’s previous collocated data center, which hosted the network, was not able to easily scale to keep pace with the growth in the amount of information passing through the statewide network. “The amount of information flowing through MiHIN is growing very quickly, so we needed the ability to scale on demand,” says Pletcher.

MiHIN was also seeking to reduce costs. “We had money tied up in collocated hardware in the data center, and we wanted to convert to a variable-cost model,” says Brian Seggie, security director and chief security officer for MiHIN. Additionally, more flexibility was needed to meet the demands of MiHIN’s expanding stakeholder base. “We frequently receive requests to launch new services and features, but we weren’t able to respond to some requests as quickly as we wanted,” Pletcher says.

MiHIN determined that moving its exchange to the cloud was the best way to address its needs for scalability, cost savings, and flexibility while maintaining strong security.

Why Amazon Web Services

After evaluating alternatives, MiHIN decided to move its health information network to Amazon Web Services (AWS). “AWS was the right cloud provider for us, because it had the services we wanted for our scalability, security, and high-availability needs,” says Pletcher.

MiHIN worked with Cloudticity, an AWS Advanced Consulting Partner, to move the MiHIN Health Information Services Cloud to AWS. “Cloudticity brought expertise we needed for the move, as far as deploying and configuring the AWS environment,” says Pletcher.

MiHIN runs on Amazon Elastic Compute Cloud (Amazon EC2) instances, with Amazon Elastic Block Store (Amazon EBS) volumes providing persistent block storage for the Amazon EC2 instances. The organization also utilizes Amazon Relational Database Service (Amazon RDS) as its primary database solution. In addition, MiHIN uses Amazon CloudWatch as the monitoring service for its AWS resources.

MiHIN shut down its data centers after moving to AWS. “We are all-in on AWS, and we continue to explore deploying more AWS services,” Pletcher says

The Benefits

Using AWS, MiHIN can scale without limit to support increasing volumes of patient information from healthcare providers and payers. “We’re that we can process the 12 million patient health information messages we receive every week, and accommodate a growing number of messages, because we can use AWS to easily scale our network to support higher data volumes,” says Pletcher.

MiHIN saves money by no longer paying to maintain collocated hardware in data centers. “We had money trapped in hardware and maintaining that hardware, as well as software licenses for virtual machines and management tools,” Pletcher says. “Those costs are now greatly reduced in the AWS Cloud. We have adapted our business model to reflect our move to the cloud, which gives us much more control over our costs.”

Because the organization’s IT staff no longer spends time managing and maintaining hardware in a data center, they can concentrate more on business growth. “We have freed up our internal teams from traditional data-center management so they can focus more on value-creating activities,” says Seggie. “As a result, we can keep up with the growth in demand for new services we’re seeing from our customers. We’ve been able to capture many new opportunities, due in great part to the time savings and cost savings we have experienced by moving to AWS.”

Previously, when MiHIN wanted to create and test a new service, it had to spend time and money acquiring the needed resources. “We have a new level of flexibility in the cloud. Before, we always had to procure servers and storage to add more capacity for new services,” says Pletcher. “That whole process would take a month or longer.

Using AWS, we can spin up a new service the same day it’s requested. And we can shut it down quickly if it’s not the right idea. Using the AWS Cloud, we don’t have to pay for overengineering an environment to get the flexibility we need. Our business can ebb and flow as demand dictates. We’re a much more responsive and agile organization using AWS, and that helps us grow our organization.”


About MiHIN

The Michigan Health Information Network Shared Services (MiHIN) is Michigan’s state-designated entity to improve health care quality, efficiency, and patient safety by sharing electronic health information statewide, helping reduce costs for patients, providers, and payers.


AWS Services Used

Amazon EC2

Amazon Elastic Compute Cloud (Amazon EC2) is a web service that provides secure, resizable compute capacity in the cloud. It is designed to make web-scale cloud computing easier for developers.

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Amazon EBS

Amazon Elastic Block Store (EBS) is an easy to use, high performance block storage service designed for use with Amazon Elastic Compute Cloud (EC2) for both throughput and transaction intensive workloads at any scale.

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Amazon RDS

Amazon Relational Database Service (Amazon RDS) makes it easy to set up, operate, and scale a relational database in the cloud.

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Amazon CloudWatch

Amazon CloudWatch is a monitoring and observability service built for DevOps engineers, developers, site reliability engineers (SREs), and IT managers.

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