Wellforce, the Massachusetts health system whose members include Tufts Children’s Hospital and Tufts Medical Center, is already at work transitioning its entire digital healthcare ecosystem to a cloud-based platform hosted on Amazon Web Services.
WHY IT MATTERS
In a blog post on Thursday, executives from Wellforce and AWS explained how 800 people across the health system are “involved in the build, preparation and coding of the system.” The cloud migration will include its entire Epic infrastructure, “as well as a complex integration of more than 300 supporting healthcare and business applications.”
Wellforce is targeting a go-live for two clinical systems by September, and hopes to be fully operational with its whole digital ecosystem operational on the platform by spring 2022, the officials said – adding that, “once live, Wellforce is expected to be the largest organization to run the entirety of their Epic infrastructure on the cloud.”
Dr. Shafiq Rab, Wellforce chief digital officer and chief information officer, is leading the move to AWS, seeking such benefits as a redundant environment that increases access and offers opportunities for collaboration and research.
Rather than taking a “piecemeal” approach to digital transformation for Wellforce, Rab and his team is working with AWS and Epic toward integration of all components of the health system’s IT infrastructure – creating “a live production environment in the cloud to fully digitize in record time,” according to the blog post.
The goal is an agile and scalable digital ecosystem – combining the Epic electronic health record, hundreds of applications, databases and more – allowing for easier data extraction, analytics and care coordination.
Rab and his team hope the move will improve provider and patient experience, bolster the “security, reliability and accessibility” of information and enable delivery of more personalized medicine for Wellforce patients through the ability to incorporate patient-generated data from wearables and apps.
It’s also hoped that the health system can save as much as 20% each year (approximately $3 million) through this cloud-based modernization, according to the AWS blog post.
THE LARGER TREND
Other health systems have migrated their Epic EHR systems to AWS cloud in recent years, including Georgia’s Piedmont Athens Regional Medical Center. But Wellforce would be the biggest yet to make such a move.
In early 2020, Epic announced that it would stop supporting integrations with AWS competitor Google Cloud, and would stay focused on the “infrastructure the Epic community uses today and is likely to use in the future.”
An AWS exec spoke with Healthcare IT News this spring about the company’s lessons learned from the past year, and its plans to improve an existing healthcare landscape where “EHR systems do not follow patients on their care journey beyond the hospital or clinic walls [and] only a portion of healthcare data is available at any point of care, resulting in a fragmented view of a patient’s health history.”
ON THE RECORD
For his part, Wellforce’s Rab says the Epic-AWS integration will also help address equity and health disparity issues – offering care teams more resources to help underserved populations – and will generally enable safer, higher-quality and more cost-efficient care delivery.
“We are creating a frictionless and culturally competent care environment for patients, physicians, and the entire care team by migrating our entire digital healthcare ecosystem to the AWS Cloud,” said Rab. “This enables our Wellforce team to integrate data-driven intelligence into everyday health and care that is more secure, resilient, and simple to use.”
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Healthcare IT News is a HIMSS publication.
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