Geisinger taps Amazon Web Services for cloud technology, AI and machine learning

Regional health system Geisinger tapped Amazon's cloud division as its strategic cloud tech provider and plans to transition its entire digital portfolio of more than 400 applications and numerous workflows to Amazon Web Services.

According to AWS, Geisinger will be one of the largest electronic health record (EHR) migrations to its cloud platform to date, and the health system is planning to transition the majority of its systems and applications to AWS. Geisinger says it runs about 18,000 to 20,000 concurrent users throughout the day on its systems.

The decision to work with AWS comes after a detailed multiyear review and selection process, according to executives. The move to the cloud will result in the health system saving several million dollars annually after implementation is completed. Those cost savings that can be used to make investments into the health system, according to executives.

Migrating to AWS will enable the health system to be more nimble with technology development and deployment, said John Kravitz, Geisinger’s chief information officer.

"Our main driver is the agility for our business. That's one of the reasons why we selected and implemented about two years ago an API management platform so that we can make the connections very quickly, very seamlessly, integrating applications as we migrate to the cloud into our core systems," Kravitz told Fierce Healthcare.

"This will give us the agility to be able to adjust quickly to get applications in place that will help with the strategy of our organization. There's a big benefit to implementing in the cloud. It's a business enabler for us to be able to do our work more effectively, efficiently and timely to be able to meet the needs of the business," he said.

Geisinger’s cloud migration to AWS will enable the healthcare system to develop new, innovative technological advancements in areas like artificial intelligence and machine learning that will help improve access to and quality of care. It will also enable teams to create workflow efficiencies for employees to increase productivity while streamlining and simplifying daily work, executives said.

"AWS brings a lot of artificial intelligence and machine learning to the table, and that allows us to do different things with automation tools and advanced analytics," Kravitz said. “We know that rapidly evolving technology, such as artificial intelligence and machine learning, can help save lives. Not to mention that this will make our staff more agile and responsive so they can spend more time at the bedside, where our patients need them most."

AWS is competing with Microsoft and Google to push deeper into healthcare in a battle to provide cloud computing and data storage technology to hospitals and life sciences companies. 

Last summer, Amazon's cloud division rolled out AWS for Health, a set of services and partner solutions for healthcare, genomics and biopharma. Amazon says the portfolio of solutions will help accelerate innovation from "benchtop to bedside" as the tech giant pushes further into the healthcare and life sciences markets.

Microsoft is also making a big play for the healthcare cloud business with its industry-specific cloud service that brings together existing tech such as Teams, Azure IoT and chatbots to help healthcare organizations manage operations.

In the past few years, Mayo Clinic struck a sweeping partnership with Google to use the tech giant's cloud platform to accelerate innovation through digital technologies.

Providence St. Joseph Health tapped Microsoft in a data storage agreement, and insurance giant Humana inked a seven-year strategic partnership with Microsoft to use cloud and artificial intelligence technologies to build predictive solutions and intelligent automation. EHR company Cerner named AWS its preferred cloud, artificial intelligence and machine learning provider.

Geisinger includes 10 hospital campuses, a health plan with more than half a million members, a research institute and the Geisinger Commonwealth School of Medicine. The health system has nearly 24,000 employees and more than 1,700 employed physicians.

As part of the effort, Geisinger also plans to upskill its workforce by offering comprehensive cloud skills training for the vast majority of its employees. Training is already underway with many Geisinger employees, and the training will be ongoing over the next five years.

"We've lost people with the Great Resignation, like many other healthcare and other businesses, and we really value and appreciate the staff that we have. We want to make certain that they feel engaged and that we're investing in them going forward. This enables them to learn a new skill set to help their career opportunities," Kravitz said.