DevOps Implementation in Healthcare: Benefits and Use Cases by OpsWorks Co.
DevOps Implementation in Healthcare Industry
How did the Optum healthcare company manage to save millions of dollars in 2020 despite the global pandemic? If you guessed DevOps, then you guessed right! What do you stand to gain from implementing DevOps in healthcare? Let’s find out!
DevOps Impact on IT Infrastructure
Modern business exists in a dynamic, highly competitive, and unstable environment. Complying with it requires support from IT departments. New features and new applications should be introduced at a higher frequency. In addition, IT itself is undergoing revolutionary changes, forcing IT organizations to constantly seek out new solutions to support the proliferation of mobile experiences, virtualization of different infrastructure tiers, integration of public clouds and on-premises infrastructures, and more.
The response to the volatility of the IT environment was the active adaptation of the principles of “fast” (agile) development, including frequent releases of the created software and their launch into productive operation. Implementing DevOps in healthcare streamlines software development and automates routine IT infrastructure management operations. Thus, applying these methods, with a deep understanding of the infrastructure deployed in the company and existing workflows, will significantly speed up the completion of most tasks and reduce the associated costs.
Note: DevOps teams work towards one goal — effective business support. For developers, it’s about making the change happen, and for the operations team, it’s about minimizing the risks to the IT infrastructure that those changes pose. In any case, their mutual goal is IT infrastructure optimization.
While recognizing the critical role of implementing DevOps in healthcare, keep in mind that this transition represents a major transformation in the culture of disparate teams within the same IT department. The movement towards DevOps will progress in stages, from understanding the goals and requirements from each other, to cooperating to solve common problems, to ultimately building uniform processes. The gradual awareness of and acceptance by specialists of the new conditions for their collaboration will need to be supported by increasingly developed tools for automating tasks within the framework of DevOps processes.
Ultimately, as a result of applying DevOps solutions, the application deployed in the operational environment should be exactly as intended by the developers during the design phase. However, DevOps is moving beyond one stage in the application lifecycle. DevOps is now gradually transforming from a methodology for moving applications from development to production to a process that spans the entire lifecycle of the application.
Thesis: with all of this in mind, a new DevOps model should appear, in which the principles of interaction cover all stages of the life cycle and connect not only the developers and operations personnel, but also customers from the business side. All three roles interact at all stages, while at each of them one role or roles perform dominant functions.
Healthcare Software Development
Continuously improving the quality of healthcare is a top priority in all developed countries. The effectiveness of health care now largely depends on the introduction of new technologies. Recently, more and more medical institutions have started to view DevOps in healthcare not only as a way to automate certain functions or processes, but also as a tool that affects the growth of the economic efficiency of the organization.
In general, the development of integrated healthcare solutions is no different from the typical stages of various IT software development. But due to the complexity and ambiguity of the subject area, and responsibility for the health of other people, the specificity of healthcare software development is such that the methodology for developing each specific solution should be determined by the conditions in which this system will be operated.
Thanks to the introduction of novel technologies, such as cloud computing, medical services are beginning to be provided on a fundamentally new level. Frost & Sullivan’s report states that the COVID-19 crisis has increased the speed of telehealth adoption by 2x. This allows providers to solve issues regarding availability of qualified professionals, providing care and prescribing the appropriate treatments promptly. Moreover, the complex preventive measures the software provides helps prevent the risk of disease or prevent frequent exacerbation of existing conditions.
Healthcare Cloud Solutions
Recent research has shown that the global healthcare cloud market will grow by $25.54 billion over four years. The high demand for cloud technologies is an indicator of businesses’ desire to optimize their IT infrastructures. In this regard, the medical field is gradually occupying its own niche in the line of solutions for the service business.
The demand for moving enterprises to the cloud is driven by several advantages:
- reduced cost of infrastructure ownership/maintenance;
- simplified management of all business processes along all business chains;
- reduced time-to-market period;
- consolidated resources and aim at optimizing competitive advantages.
Implementing DevOps in healthcare, in turn, dictates new rules for the development of healthcare cloud solutions.
- Accelerated Time-to-Market for Healthcare Services. The rapid development of technology over the past few decades has led to a change in the approach to organizing IT infrastructures. In the past, companies needed to spend a lot of time and resources on purchasing and maintaining their own storage infrastructure. In the medical business, this was compounded by the need to maintain and store medical records appropriately. When using cloud technologies in medicine and working with cloud storage, the process of saving data is carried out by the cloud service providers themselves, without the participation of customers. Thus, medical institutions can concentrate more on the development and promotion of their own product on the market. Many companies believe that healthcare transformation will continue at an even faster pace in the future, and the combination of DevOps and healthcare will play a key role in streamlining cloud migration processes.
- Reduced Infrastructure Maintenance Costs. Many companies see the potential for savings in cloud computing. When working with cloud storage, medical organizations, depending on their needs, pay only for the storage space that is actually used. Thus, the clinic does not pay for all of the server’s resources which it may not use. With DevOps in healthcare, cloud service providers respond quickly to customer needs and provide additional space, for example, to process large influxes of patient data.
- Maximum Reduction of Capital Costs. The use of cloud technologies in medicine allows clinics not to have to invest in the expensive purchase of their own infrastructure and its maintenance. Cloud service providers offer their customers an infrastructure-as-a-service model, which makes it possible to eliminate capital investments without paying for software ownership, but essentially by leasing it and gaining access over the Internet. Now SaaS — software as a service has the largest share in the cloud market. Medical institutions can save additional money by partnering with large cloud providers that invest in server hardware.
- Reduced Personnel Costs. When using cloud technologies and storing data on servers in the cloud, the clinic does not need to hire full-time IT specialists who can maintain their infrastructure. Professionals in this field are paid fairly high wages, and the savings for the clinic will be substantial. DevOps and healthcare is a mixture that provides millions of ways to reduce costs.
- Fault Tolerance and Data Recovery. In practice, users of the clinic’s website often have to deal with situations where the server is overloaded and thus the site cannot load. Of course, such cases can lead to negative consumer experiences and financial losses for the site owners. The use of cloud technologies with services with increased fault tolerance solves this problem. In case of server failure or malfunction, the clinic will be redirected to a backup server (this option is usually included in the cost of services offered by providers).
All of these amazing benefits of cloud technologies are pushing healthcare institutions to migrate to clouds:
What Benefits does DevOps Bring to the Healthcare Industry?
According to a study by Redgate Software, 70% of healthcare industry players have adopted DevOps in all or some of their projects or have a proof of concept to use DevOps techniques. The use of DevOps methods allows you to turn the IT department into a leader in generating direct and indirect profit, optimize the associated costs, and increase the efficiency of the business as a whole.
DevOps offers multiple benefits within different levels of the same IT infrastructure:
- Lower Operating Costs: With DevOps, operating costs will significantly decrease as there is no need to invest in procurement or training.
- Expanded Use of Data: DevOps-based architecture provides easy access through applications in close proximity to patients and administrators. Data is used by multiple departments and platforms for multipurpose use to deliver leveraged healthcare solutions.
- Superior Compliance and Data Protection: Implementing infrastructure-as-a-code increases security. Protection from hackers is ensured by following high standards, guaranteeing data safety, and strict compliance with regulatory requirements.
- Enhanced Infrastructure Performance: Easily accessible resources and data, along with automated systems, increase the effectiveness of the infrastructure.
- Automation of Manual Tasks: DevOps automation has provided a high degree of standardization by offering efficient ways to deploy, configure, and start many servers with just a few automated DevOps tools.
- Strong Competitive Edge: In healthcare innovation, time to market is a huge hurdle. Automated infrastructure management processes reduce development time while maintaining quality. Thus, increased agility will set your company apart from your competitors.
The goal of DevOps in healthcare is to evaluate the performance of the system as a whole, rather than specific departments of developers, administrators, and QA specialists. The task of DevOps is to make the project’s participants work as a team to achieve a global goal: to increase the value of the product for users, to develop cross-functionality, and to make employees more versatile.
OpsWorks Co. DevOps Use Cases: Doxy Healthcare Platform
DevOps and healthcare is a challenging combination. Many problems have the potential to arise during the transition to DevOps. Such problems include the use of outdated equipment, poor management support, lack of understanding of the operation of their own infrastructure, or a reluctance to abandon outdated practices.
To overcome these challenges, it is better to start a partnership with a trusted IT service provider who will work with your IT department to audit your existing infrastructure, identify bottlenecks, and help you design and execute a plan to overcome them.
This is exactly what OpsWorks Co. did for Doxy.
Doxy is a free and safe telemedicine platform that allows you to use telemedicine services privately. It initially functioned on Docker Swarm. In search of a more customizable solution, it decided to migrate to Kubernetes, which also has more deployment options.
With Kubernetes on board, Doxy was able to:
- Simplify monitoring of all application-related operations
- Simplify maintenance and scalability of apps
- Support dozens of testing environments
OpsWorks Co. provided Doxy with a wide range of services to choose from:
- Infrastructure design: the development and implementation of a fault-tolerant, multi-tier, microservice architecture for various applications of various sizes, is the key to successful and efficient work. Whether your infrastructure is on-prem or in the cloud, our DevOps engineers can help you create automated, reproducible, and auto-testable environments.
- Infrastructure as code: we use the Infrastructure-as-a-Code (IaaC) approach to deploy and manage our clients’ infrastructures. Using tools such as AWS, our engineers are able to deploy scalable infrastructures of any complexity.
- Application configuration management: using automated configuration management tools, our experts will help you establish application deployment and maintenance processes to keep your systems consistent.
- Continuous Development Management (CI/CD): we implement continuous delivery, integration, code deployment and application testing using CI/CD tools. Our DevOps engineers will help you optimize the development lifecycle of your software products, increasing the frequency and quality of releases.
Does your development team need support? OpsWorks Co. is ready to provide you with DevOps engineering services! Our experts will develop the infrastructure, set up automation of development processes (CI / CD, SDLC), automate daily tasks, and help adapt the application architecture in order to maximize the capabilities of cloud platforms and microservice implementation.
Having many years of experience working with various cloud platforms, including market leaders such as Amazon Web Services, our DevOps pros will help you choose the best cloud for the optimal solution for your tasks. We will audit and provide an analysis describing the pros and cons of each cloud platform to meet your specific requirements.