Cloud computing could provide key to unlocking healthcare databases

Cloud capabilities and technologies are taking on increasing importance in healthcare services, and brand-name vendors are teaming with powerful trade organizations representing medical providers to provide curated databases.

An example of this phenomenon is the teaming of The American Heart Association (AHA) with Amazon Web Services to launch a cloud-based data marketplace to assist clinicians in untangling and analyzing datasets that could accelerate solutions for cardiovascular diseases.

The two industry titans announced their partnership in November 2016. They emphasized the great need for aggregating an overwhelming amount of healthcare data, sources of which include longitudinal cohorts, proteomic, genomic and gene expression origins.

The applications of this precision medicine approach could be used at hospitals and medical offices nationwide, although any discernible applications likely won’t be available until the latter half of 2017 at the earliest.

To expedite production, AHA is providing access to its trademark Precision Medicine Platform through a series of grants and Amazon will award recipients free access to computational cloud storage and analysis. The companies said grant submissions are in progress and the first round of recipients will be announced in April 2017.

AHA and Amazon are not the only ones involved in project. Other well-known contributors to the data marketplace include AstraZeneca, Cedars Sinai Heart Institute, Dallas Heart Study, the Duke Clinical Research Institute (DCRI), Intermountain Medical Center Heart Institute, the International Stroke Genetics Consortium and Stanford Cardiovascular Institute.

The science of healthcare databases is byzantine by nature and hard to grasp. But chief information officers at integrated delivery networks, health systems and medical sites nationwide know that a better understanding and utilization of it is a key to limiting chronic disease states and preventing heightened and fatal incidents.

Cloud data warehousing provides the capacity and architecture to store medical data and allow for unlimited analytics.

Cardiovascular diseases are the number one cause of death worldwide. While not a medicinal cure, what AHA and Amazon are spearheading is the vehicle to enhanced discovery and the hopeful development of vital preventive remedies.

Chris Silva is an analyst at DRG and specializes in information technology, telehealth and big data, among other topics. Follow him on Twitter at @ChrisSilvaDRG