OTN Uses AWS to Enhance Healthcare for Thousands of Ontario Residents

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When patients in Ontario, Canada, need to speak with a physician without traveling to the hospital, they often do so through videoconferencing technology provided by OTN. OTN, one of the world’s largest virtual care networks, provides two-way videoconferencing for patients in locations throughout Ontario. OTN offers access through 170,000 healthcare providers at more than 1,600 sites, with more sites planned. “We are experiencing a lot of growth, as people discover the need for virtual care,” says Alex Reidiboim, lead solutions architect for OTN.

With OTN’s network growing quickly, the organization saw increasing demands on its on-premises IT infrastructure, requiring hands-on management and significant resourcing. “We wanted to be able to focus our internal resources on technical improvements that would enhance our customer experience rather than the day-to-day tasks related to scaling the platform to meet demand,” Reidiboim says. One key pain point was the downtime needed when additional capacity was required. “We need to provide 24x7 access for our users, which could sometimes prove challenging without sufficient network capacity,” says Reidiboim. “We wanted a partner to assist in managing the network and hardware for us, so we could concentrate our efforts on delivering more value to our customers.”

 

“Because of AWS, our video engineers are spending their time helping customers troubleshoot videoconferencing issues and making sure we’re providing the best healthcare experience.”

Alex Reidiboim, Lead Solutions Architect, OTN

  • About OTN
  • Benefits
  • AWS Services Used
  • About OTN
  • OTN brings virtual-care innovation to the healthcare system so that the people of Ontario can get the care they need when and where they need it most: at home, in their community, or in hospital. For more than a decade, OTN has increased access to healthcare and education across the province with one of the world’s most extensive virtual-care networks. Working with its many partners and leveraging its unique knowledge of healthcare and digital technology, OTN addresses challenges by introducing and spreading new ways of delivering care that benefit patients, care providers, and the healthcare system. An independent, not-for-profit organization, OTN is funded by the Government of Ontario.

  • Benefits
    • Focuses more on serving customers, less on managing infrastructure
    • Gains real-time view of platform capacity
    • Resolves technical issues in 1 week instead of 6 months
  • AWS Services Used

Migrating a Video-Hosting Platform to AWS

To overcome its challenges, OTN moved its video-hosting platform to Amazon Web Services (AWS). “We considered all the top cloud providers, but AWS won because of the adaptability and flexibility of the environment and the number of features that could be implemented,” says Reidiboim.

OTN uses Amazon Elastic Compute Cloud (Amazon EC2) , AWS Route53, and AWS Auto Scaling groups to automate capacity provisioning and reduce the time required to manage day-to-day IT activities. The organization also uses AWS Lambda and Amazon CloudWatch to create custom metrics for monitoring, troubleshooting, and capacity optimization.

 

Specifically, Lambda feeds custom metrics into CloudWatch to show the overall health of the video network. OTN then feeds those metrics back into AWS Auto Scaling groups, which add or remove video transcoding servers in response to the customer metrics, allowing the video engineers to set the thresholds accordingly. “Essentially, we have created a self-healing video network on AWS,” Reidiboim says.

Delivering the Best Virtual Care Experience to People Across Ontario

Since moving its video-hosting platform to AWS, OTN has been able to automatically provision and scale the platform up or down on demand. As a result, by embracing the cloud and allowing AWS to take care of the undifferentiated heavy lifting, OTN can refocus its efforts on its core business strategy—delivering virtual care to remote communities and other locations across the province. “Because of AWS, our video engineers are spending their time helping customers troubleshoot videoconferencing issues and making sure we’re providing the best healthcare experience. They are no longer focusing on day-to-day network capacity management. Using AWS, we have automated everything, so the network reacts automatically when we need more capacity,” says Reidiboim.

pexip-AWS _new architecture diagram

Resolving Technical Issues in One Week Instead of Six Months

OTN is relying on AWS to resolve technical challenges faster than it could using its on-premises infrastructure. For example, when OTN launched its new video network, mobile customers experienced connectivity problems because one of Canada’s mobile providers had implemented Internet Protocol version 6 (IPv6). “In our on-premises environment, it would have taken us at least six months to implement IPv6 in all of our network equipment, coordinate with our service providers, test it, take our environment down off hours, and them implement IPv6,” says Reidiboim. “On AWS, we simply turned on IPv6, made some adjustments, and we had the issue solved in under a week—with no downtime and no customer impact.”

Reducing Risk

By taking advantage of AWS’s rigorous best practices around security and compliance, OTN has reduced its risk. “We have stronger security practices than we had in our on-premises environment because we are following AWS-defined security best practices,” says Reidiboim. OTN has also gained better visibility into its network, getting a real-time view of capacity through CloudWatch and Amazon GuardDuty.

OTN is continuously building on its solid cloud foundation to improve efficiencies. In the future, the organization plans to take advantage of new AWS services including Amazon QuickSight and Amazon Athena to create operational dashboards that will provide more detailed metrics to stakeholders. “We are excited to use additional AWS services to discover new ways to further improve the customer experience,” says Reidiboim.


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