Verge Health Case Study
Verge Health empowers more than 900 healthcare organizations to proactively protect and defend patients, caregivers, and organizations against errors, adverse events, and policy violations in order to achieve optimal quality and safety results. The Converge Platform is a comprehensive, enterprise software solution offering a secure workspace with built-in workflow for high-risk and high-liability data. With Converge, hospital systems have a cross-functional, proactive surveillance tool that is always on—highlighting issues and supporting a rapid response to any and all events.
Using reliable, HIPAA-compliant services deployed from AWS Service Catalog, we can accelerate our time to market while continuing to lead conversations around security.”
Chief Solutions Officer, Verge Health
A key way Verge Health differentiates itself is through rapid innovation focused on meeting individual customer needs. “We have hundreds of customers, and each one has a different lens on what they do,” says James Lawson, Chief Solutions Officer at Verge Health. “We’re also continuously pressed by the federal government to make sure we have the latest information and workflows in place to meet ever-evolving compliance standards. The result is that we are in a state of continuous application development, which requires us to constantly spin up new servers independent of our production infrastructure and databases.”
As a partner to healthcare organizations, Verge Health is subject to the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA), a regulation that mandates security and privacy for personal health information (PHI). HIPAA compliance in a SaaS context is a complex and specialized area, encompassing technical issues ranging from firewall configuration, to log monitoring, to data retention. The team spent significant time and resources managing and deploying infrastructure that met HIPAA requirements—time that could have been used for creating revenue-generating solutions.
Because deploying servers was not the development team’s main area of expertise, costly inconsistencies were a recurring problem. “Misconfigured servers can cause problems far into the development process and are very hard to troubleshoot,” says Lawson. “This kind of issue is excruciating for a development team and can wrap them up for weeks. It can force you to start over from scratch.” The ability to deploy vetted, reusable images had the potential to save the team significant time and money.
Why Amazon Web Services
Facing hardware end-of-life in its data centers, Verge Health decided to migrate its software and services to Amazon Web Services (AWS). To help with the migration, Verge Health chose AWS Advanced Consulting Partner Cloudticity because of its expertise in coding, migrating, and managing some of the largest HIPAA-compliant solutions on AWS. As part of the Verge Health migration process, Cloudticity created a set of compliant infrastructure configurations using the Chef server (procured from the AWS Marketplace, and managed on AWS Service Catalog using AWS CloudFormation templates). Verge Health saw an opportunity to leverage these components to support its own DevOps approach, increasing agility and speed to better serve its customers.
By moving to standard configurations that could be self-provisioned by Verge, the team was able to solve compliance, resourcing, and consistency challenges. In addition, it would gain greater control over its own environment—something the partner actively encourages. “Traditionally with managed services, everything has to be done as a ticket request,” says Gerry Miller, founder and chief technology officer of Cloudticity. “We aim to change that model by empowering customers like Verge to deploy what they need without involving us. It enables them to develop at a faster pace, and it enhances our scalability to serve more customers.”
AWS Service Catalog makes it simple to create and manage catalogs of IT services that are approved for use on AWS. Whether it’s servers, software, databases, or complete application architectures, AWS Service Catalog empowers teams to quickly deploy consistent, verified, compliant resources with centralized control and governance.
“AWS Service Catalog ensures that Verge Health can self-provision resources as they need to in a standard configuration with the high availability and predictability they need,” says Miller. The resources created by Cloudticity using AWS CloudFormation templates during the migration used security and privacy best practices and were HIPAA-compliant. “We already had AWS Service Catalog expertise because we use it to deploy Cloudticity Oxygen™, our proprietary, HIPAA-specific managed services platform,” says Miller. “We used that knowledge to create a catalog of components matched to the patterns of requests we were seeing from Verge Health during their migration to AWS.”
The software resources provided through AWS Service Catalog are preconfigured by Cloudticity to be secure and HIPAA-compliant. Verge Health can be confident that any instances they provision will work as intended and will be identical to those used in production. By eliminating configuration errors, this consistency saves the company time and money.
Using AWS Service Catalog, Verge Health has accelerated its already-market-leading pace of innovation. “The flexibility we have today is dramatically improved,” says Lawson. “It allows us to instantly put environments in place to support my engineering teams. They can develop and test new applications and get them to market faster so we can respond to business change.”
Verge Health estimates that manually configuring a development and test environment would have taken up to three weeks before adopting AWS Service Catalog, with a high probability of errors. Now, it takes only moments and is error-free.
From an operational perspective, using AWS Service Catalog helps Verge Health focus on value-added activities. “I don’t have to maintain resources whose only job is to be knowledgeable about servers,” says Tom Fink, vice president of technology services at Verge Health. “Instead, we can focus on what we do best, which is build software. The majority of my people are attacking business problems. We can leave provisioning and managing infrastructure to those who specialize in it.”
Using a platform-as-a-service approach is not only speeding development at Verge Health, it’s also enabling the company to take it in new directions altogether by giving it the freedom to experiment at low cost and low risk. “If we have a theory about something that might improve speed, agility, or security, we can spin up a pseudo-environment and put it to the test, and then spin the resources down again when we’re finished. Doing that manually would be virtually impossible,” says Lawson.
In-depth monitoring is another key benefit Verge Health has gained with AWS. It now has a real-time view into the health of its environment and can quickly adjust to provide the best user experience. Granular, per-component cost information enables the company to improve operational efficiency and analyze the cost-to-value ratio of potential new features before investing engineering resources in them. “While we could do some of this with our previous hosting provider, the granular visibility into the component cost of the underlying infrastructure is unique,” says Fink.
“Using reliable, HIPAA-compliant resources deployed from AWS Service Catalog, we can accelerate our time to market while continuing to lead conversations around security,” says Lawson. “The move to AWS and our partnership with Cloudticity will help us remain best-in-class.”
About Verge Health
Through its Converge Platform, Verge Health enables healthcare organizations to take a proactive, systemwide approach to safety, risk, and quality. With software-as-a-service applications for practitioner management, organizational compliance, and patient and employee safety, clients can incorporate data-driven decision making throughout their operations using a secure, cloud-based workspace with robust security and permission
About the Partner - Cloudticity
- Seattle-based Cloudticity designs, builds, migrates, and manages healthcare systems on Amazon Web Services (AWS). Customer solutions have included patient portals, health information exchanges, mobile health engagement platforms, and other solutions for a growing customer base. Cloudticity is an Advanced AWS Partner Network (APN) Consulting Partner, an authorized AWS Channel Reseller and AWS Authorized Government Reseller, and an AWS audited Managed Service Provider (MSP) Partner. Additionally, the company holds both AWS Healthcare Competency and DevOps Competency, and is a member of the AWS Public Sector Program.
- For more information about how Cloudticity can help you create HIPAA-compliant healthcare solutions in the AWS cloud, see the Cloudticity listing in the AWS Partner Directory.
Benefits of AWS
- Shortened time to deploy consistent development environments from three weeks to moments
- In-depth monitoring supporting improved operational efficiency and cost-to-value analysis
- Faster time to market for new features and customizations
- Adoption of new development best practices such as containerization and microservices
- Built-in HIPAA compliance ensuring regulatory adherence required by healthcare end customers
AWS Services Used
AWS Service Catalog
AWS Service Catalog allows organizations to create and manage catalogs of IT services that are approved for use on AWS.
AWS CloudFormation provides a common language for you to describe and provision all the infrastructure resources in your cloud environment.
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