Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center Builds Telehealth Solution Using AWS

December 5, 2022 Christine Silvers

Blog guest authored by Venkat Jegadeesan, Jim Arrington, and Si Wong from Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center

When the pandemic hit the United States in March 2020, many organizations needed suddenly to be able to operate remotely, including hospitals and academic medical centers. Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center (BIDMC) in Massachusetts collaborated with Amazon Web Services (AWS) to rapidly build a telehealth solution to serve the needs of its ambulatory patients seen during the COVID-19 pandemic and beyond.

For providers to be able to meet with patients remotely, a single, supportable, scalable, secure, and easy-to-use telehealth system was needed. Specifically, BIDMC needed an effortless system for their 1,250 clinicians to use for telehealth. Existing tools were difficult for patients to navigate and could not integrate with BIDMC’s existing clinical workflows and electronic health records.

COVID-19 spurs need for secure telehealth solution that is easy to use and support

As large swaths of appointments were converted from in-person to telehealth visits, BIDMC found their doctors were using a variety of video conferencing platforms to connect with their patients. The move to telehealth became an unsupportable and onerous process for patients, clinicians, and BIDMC operations. In response, BIDMC needed to quickly stand up a pilot program to illustrate how a standardized video conferencing solution, built with the end-user experience in mind, could enable a provider to have improved oversight and security while connecting data to their internal systems.

Building out a secure telehealth platform within six weeks

BIDMC and AWS, collaborating with AWS Health Partner Slalom Consulting, built a lightweight, clientless, and secure telehealth application, which would work across all mobile and web-enabled devices.

Leveraging Amazon Chime SDK, the team was quickly able to demonstrate not only that such an app could be rapidly developed, but also that it could potentially integrate with existing scheduling platforms. This would allow for patients to join regardless of device, operating system, or technical capability and not change the workflow of the clinicians. Once the proof of concept was built, BIDMC scoped and implemented a minimum viable product for go-live. It focused on core capabilities, like enabling both front and rear cameras on mobile devices and maximizing screen utilization for personal interaction. Future capabilities, like screen sharing, were prioritized for later iterations.

Figure 1 - Architecture diagram for an AI-powered telemedicine solution built upon AWS servicesFigure 1 – Architecture diagram for an AI-powered telemedicine solution built upon AWS services

The BIDMC team was able to leverage an architecture of AWS services that allowed them to move quickly with a cost-efficient and relatively low infrastructure footprint. The team leveraged Amazon Chime SDK for infrastructure, Amazon Simple Storage Service (Amazon S3) for storage, and Amazon CloudFront for secure data transfers. This allowed them to focus more on features, experience, and design of the application, which was built using the AWS SDK for Javascript, while deferring plans to eventually port the system over to the React framework.

Building upon a successful telehealth foundation

Over the past two years, BIDMC has deployed the telehealth solution throughout the rest of its organization, with a daily telehealth volume of 300-400 visits. The team has added support for the hospital’s 10 major patient languages, including translated platform content and integration into the hospital Interpreter Services system.  In addition, the team will be deploying screen sharing capabilities in its upcoming feature set release.

Feedback for the tool has been very positive with patients liking the ease of use and no app installations required on their personal devices. Clinicians are enjoying the integrated features of the platform in their electronic health record scheduling system.

Conclusion

Utilizing Amazon Chime SDK, along with other AWS services, enabled BIDMC to quickly build and deploy a telehealth platform. It is straightforward for patients and providers to use, effortless for IT to support, and integrates seamlessly with BIDMC’s existing clinical workflows and electronic health records.

Moreover, BIDMC has successfully deployed the platform, and received very positive feedback, while they continue to expand the platform’s capabilities.

To learn more about AWS for Health—an offering of curated AWS services and AWS Partner Network solutions used by thousands of healthcare and life sciences customers globally, visit AWS for Health and AWS for Health Solutions webpages or contact an AWS Representative.

Further Reading

Venkat JegadeesanVenkat Jegadeesan is the Vice President of Technology and Innovation for the Beth Israel Lahey Health system. He is responsible for providing technology vision and leadership in the development and implementation of innovative technologies to improve hospital operations and provider and patient experiences.

Jim ArringtonJim Arrington is the Director of DevOps and Product Management for Beth Israel Lahey Health responsible for leading and managing product development and support efforts for new innovations and technologies for the system.

Si WongSi Wong is an Enterprise Architect at Beth Israel Lahey Health. He has two decades of web application development experience. Although he enjoys writing C# and TypeScript, Si is always looking for new tools and technologies that can provide the most impactful solutions with the least amount of coding.

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