Over the past few years, Amazon Web Services, Google and Microsoft have been duking it out with one another in their bid to win contracts from payers, providers and life science companies as more healthcare organizations move their applications to the cloud.
In this race, AWS appears to have sprinted ahead, and in a sign that the industry is paying attention, healthcare research firm KLAS issued a report Tuesday analyzing why healthcare systems are routinely picking AWS over its counterparts. It specifically highlighted the experience of 13 payers and providers who chose AWS as their cloud service provider. Just last month, both Geisinger and Tufts Medicine moved their organizations to the cloud using AWS.
Separately, in order to show that it has similar reports in the offing, and perhaps to soothe any ruffled feathers, KLAS made clear that it will issue similar reports on Google and Microsoft’s cloud services in the future.
So why is AWS emerging as the healthcare sector’s cloud darling?
The report found that healthcare organizations that choose AWS over its competitors do so because they believe it’s the most mature and healthcare-focused cloud platform.
Many respondents said they selected AWS because it was the fastest and most comprehensive cloud platform at the time. Other common reasons were Amazon’s track record for developing highly-integrated consumer-facing applications, high system reliability, strong security and name recognition.
Some of the AWS customers interviewed in the report said they were choosing between AWS and Google Cloud Platform during their cloud selection process. Those who went with AWS said Google’s cloud platform was not focused enough on healthcare nor comprehensive enough to meet their organization’s needs.
When sent questions about the respondents’ claims, a Google representative said its customers are “drawn to Google Cloud for qualities such as interoperability, security and cutting-edge technology, such as AI and machine learning.” She said what makes Google Cloud unique is its “commitment to growing [its] healthcare products and expertise.”
Among respondents that were choosing between AWS and Microsoft Cloud, one said Microsoft’s platform seemed less developer-friendly than AWS’, and another expressed system performance concerns. One midsize health system said they felt Microsoft’s technology wasn’t as fast as AWS’, adding that Microsoft’s solutions were too siloed and its licensing was too confusing.
Microsoft did not respond to questions about respondents’ reasons for choosing AWS over its healthcare cloud offering.
Like its competitors, AWS provides its healthcare customers with HIPAA-eligible artificial intelligence and machine learning offerings. Of the six artificial intelligence and machine learning tools AWS offers, the report’s participating organizations utilized Amazon Comprehend Medical and Amazon SageMaker the most. Both services were used by nine of the 13 participants.
Amazon Comprehend Medical uses natural language processing to extract medical information from medical text. Organizations that utilized the tool said it results in significant time savings, including reducing the time to extract and convert handwritten information from days to hours, clinician documentation conducted outside work hours, and time spent entering consent forms into the EMR.
Developers and data scientists use Amazon SageMaker to build, train and deploy their own machine learning models. Organizations that utilized the offerings said it led to an improved understanding of the consumer experience and helped them better engage patients and members by connecting them to care guides.
Aside from speed, focus on healthcare and system reliability, another reason AWS is winning over customers, per the report, is the vendor’s willingness to meet with all members of their IT and operations teams, not just C-suite decision-makers. Other drivers of loyalty to AWS include the accessibility of ongoing support personnel, a deep knowledge of individual customer’s solutions and the encouragement of consistent communication and touch points.
What must be heartening for AWS executives reading this report is the fact that respondents from the 13 organizations appear to view the company as a partner.
All respondents said AWS is a part of their long-term plans and they would buy from the vendor again.
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