Transforming Healthcare with Cloud-Native Services at the Edge
Working with Microsoft and Intel to unlock the potential of edge compute and AI in healthcare, WWT’s remote patient monitoring solution uses Azure Stack Edge Pro to turn real-time data into actionable insights with the potential to transform patient care as we know it.
Technical requirements and components
Some of the requirements our team faced in developing a solution included:
- On-demand analytics: On-premises relational data storage to enable on-demand analytics of PHI data. This allows for insights into patient status to be created and presented to medical experts regardless of internet connection status or PHI cloud storage risk posture.
- FHIR: Meeting the Fast Healthcare Interoperability Resources (FHIR) standard API requirements for exchanging healthcare information. FHIR is an important connector that bridges gaps between all the various parties that might need access to patient data.
- Multiple data sources: Accounting for many different data sources, coming both from within the hospital system network and from the public network.
Several distinct components comprise our Azure Stack Edge Pro solution:
- Hardware-accelerated machine learning (ML): To accelerate ML inferencing via onboard FPGA or GPU to get results closest to the data sources.
- Edge compute: To run virtual machines (VMs), Kubernetes containers and cloud-native Azure services at the edge locations.
- Azure-managed appliance: As an Azure-managed applicable, customers can use the Azure portal to order a Stack Edge solution as well as manage the appliance and workloads.
- Cloud storage gateway: To transfer data to the Azure cloud over the network while retaining local access to blobs and files.
WWT’s primary solution-building efforts centered around showcasing the computational power of the Azure Stack Edge Pro through the collection of mock patient vitals in on-site clinic and remote monitoring scenarios.
Azure services made this process surprisingly uneventful. For example, the API for FHIR server and SQL server services streamlined the implementation of easy-to-store and accessible FHIR-compliant data.
Deploying containers to host the custom apps designed to analyze vitals for clinically relevant events was likewise super simple. This allowed WWT’s dev team to focus on UI features like clinician dashboards that update when triggering events are detected, adding additional patient information to the dashboard when relevant, and notifications.
Below is a diagram of the open-source hybrid cloud solution the team developed:
At the end of a fast two months and just in time for Ignite, we’re happy to report that our team successfully met the challenge of developing and implementing a fully functional Azure Stack Edge Pro remote patient monitoring proof of concept for cardiovascular disease.
WWT's solution, designed to be installed via Azure Stack Edge Pro on a hospital’s own network, allows providers to ingest and intelligently process the mountains of data generated from countless devices each day.
We believe this solution truly has the potential to change the game in healthcare systems in several ways:
- Proactive care: Once enough historical data is captured from the passive monitoring of patient health metrics, the solution enables predictive analysis that can intelligently accelerate the identification and triage of potential problems before they occur. Such predictive analysis has the potential to change how patient care is delivered in the U.S. and around the world.
- Expedite care, free doctors’ time: With historical data on hand, plus predictive analysis dialed in to the patient level, doctors will be able to diagnose, update treatment plans and facilitate patient care much faster.
- Free IT resources: To the delight of CTOs and CIOs everywhere, the automation and aggregation capabilities of our solution can allow internal IT teams to refocus their valuable time and energy on delivering strategic wins instead of updating servers, trying to prevent them from crashing, and patching different arrangements of mismatched IT products that were never really meant to work together in the first place.
Our Azure Stack Edge Pro solution for monitoring cardiovascular disease data represents just the tip of the iceberg of applicable edge compute use cases that exist today across industries. Add in the market's ever-evolving ecosystem of cloud managed services that can further enhance security and reduce time to market, and modern organizations are well-positioned to innovate and scale faster, become more agile, and expand into new markets with multicloud and edge solutions designed to meet their unique needs.