The Cantabrian Health Service improves its service to citizens with AWS


The Cantabrian Health Service is fully migrating to SAP for the unified purchase of health materials, changing from an on-premise to a cloud model. The participation of the Cantabrian Health Service in EHDEN Project (for storage and sharing of medical records) and in CAÑIA Project (which uses Artificial Intelligence to recognize the results of Covid test) has also been possible thanks to AWS technologies.


Heath medium and long term thinking is related to cloud systems. AWS’ technical and business solutions allow for a quick deployment.”

Santiago García Blanco
Director general of digital transformation and relationships with users of the Health Board of the Government of Cantabria (Consejería de Sanidad del Gobierno de Cantabria)

The Cantabrian Health Service, under the Health Board of the Government of Cantabria (Consejería de Sanidad del Gobierno de Cantabria), is making an important economic-financial renewal of the health material procurement system for all hospitals and centers associated to the health system, choosing a SAP platform. The priority at the time of undertaking this project was to abandon own system and bank on a cloud environment. A decision supported by prior experience with other projects, as the European EHDEN. The challenge is that these cloud services may improve health assistant to people, both now and in the long term.

A SAP in the cloud

The persons in charge of the Cantabrian Health Service were clear that at the time of unifying the on-premises health network procurement system, they did not want to bank on a local environment, but instead on this SAP in the cloud.

“it is an ambitious project. Unifying all the warehouse procurement system throughout the health system, through different hospital management offices and the whole primary network is something complex”, explains Santiago García Blanco, director general of digital transformation and relationships with users of the Health Board of the Government of Cantabria (Consejería de Sanidad del Gobierno de Cantabria). The Cantabrian Health Service is currently composed of Hospital Universitario Marqués de Valdecilla, Hospital Sierrallana, Hospital Comarcal de Laredo, Hospital Tres Mares, Hospital de la Santa Cruz, as well as 42 health centers distributed in the four influence areas, 125 on-premises health offices and primary assistance emergency services.

Although the project, due to its complexity, is still being deployed, once completed and operations, all these centers will use a single application, “They will all use the same materials codification. It appears to be simple, and that it should be something that should have been done long ago, but it is still not the case and the agility of the deployment with Amazon Web Services (AWS) will help us achieve it”, the director general notes.

With this migration to AWS, the Government of Cantabria would supplement the agreement entered into in 2014 regarding the public-private cooperation to complete the renewal of Hospital Universitario Marqués de Valdecilla, which included, among its deliverables, the corporate data center to provide support to all the Cantabria Health Service. “At the rate health and digital health requirements are going, we were short by three or four years”, the director general notes, who explains how an extraordinary investment had to be made two years ago to double the capacity of this CDP. “We knew we had to do something different to avoid repeating this situation”

The decision to adopt a cloud environment was strengthened by the good results obtained in other two pioneer projects on the cloud adopted by the Cantabrian Health Service.

EHDEN and CAÑIA projects.

With the SAP test environments on the cloud, the Government of Cantabria decides to join the EHDEN project, an European initiative to store and share medical records that has one hundred health services and the record of one hundred million patients. “The goal is converting all clinical record data of the different regional health services throughout Europe to a common format, understandable by all, the OMOP (Observational Medical Outcomes Partnership) format, which greatly facilitates health observational studies”, says this person in charge. Once these data are federated, the research community will find it easier to investigate on real data and patients throughout Europe. To join this initiative, the Cantabria Government banked on AWS, which “has had absolutely facilitating agility and approach to the health sector”

Data extraction and transformation tasks deployed in EHDEBN has allowed the Cantabrian health responsible persons to provide the data in order to make project in the Cantabria Cohort, through which it is sought to evaluate and analyze, on a voluntary basis, the health life of 50,000 Cantabrians over the next years and even decades, for evidence generation, artificial intelligence algorithms development, diagnosis aid, etc. in order to make progress in precision medicine, all this being easier thanks to AWS technologies.

On the other hand, the Health Board has also decided to use AWS Artificial Intelligence technology to start up the CAÑIA Project, which allows health professionals, health partners and pharmaceuticals to have an automated real-time reading of the antigens tests. “It is a clear example of how to use cloud technology for a health sector solution”, advocates Santiago García. The application recognizes the patient’s identity through the identity or health card and read the test outcome blister, which states whether it is positive or negative. “AWS technology makes several image processing tasks and, with the patient’s demographical data, loads the results on real time in our corporate laboratories information system of the SCS, generating a report to the Health Ministry, right to COVID digital certificate, etc.,” García Blanco explains.

Future is all about the cloud

Santiago García Blanco, director general of digital transformation and relationships with users of the Health Board of the Government of Cantabria (Consejería de Sanidad del Gobierno de Cantabria), assures that the future of health assistance is all about cloud environments, from a technological point of view. “There will be an exponential increaser of demand of data treatment” If you want to use all that information, those digital images, records, the genomics, you have to be able to store it and have services capable of managing information analyses and treatments. We have to be able to provide support to all what is coming”, he advocates.

In addition, as they are sensitive date, such as health data, García Blanco states that they are safer in a cloud environment than on-premise and “from several points of view” such as availability of these data, avoiding redundancies and due to the very safety systems of AWS data centers.

García Blanco also underlines how easily the Health Board was able to start up and deploy the applications of the above mentioned projects, thanks to the flexibility provided by AWS services. So much so that the next renewal of the Web portal of Cantabria’s health system is likely to be done in cloud environments. 

About the Cantabrian Health Service

The Cantabrian Health Service reports to the Health Board of the Government of Cantabria. It is composed of several hospitals, 42 health centers, 125 on-premises doctor offices and primary assistance emergency services.

Benefits with AWS:

  • Agile deployment of solutions
  • Safe treatment of data
  • Health services innovation

AWS Services Used

Amazon EC2

Amazon Elastic Compute Cloud (Amazon EC2) offers the widest and deepest computer platform, with over 500 instances and the possibility to choose the processor, storage, networks, operating system and most recent procurement model so that it can adjust it to the most stringent needs of your workload.

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AWS Lambda

AWS Lambda is a serverless compute service that lets you run code without provisioning or managing servers, creating workload-aware cluster scaling logic, maintaining event integrations, or managing runtimes.

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Amazon Rekognition

Amazon Rekognition offers computer vision (CV) capabilities previously trained and customizable to extract information from images and videos

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