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Transformational Shifts in Government and Public Sector Institutions

Beyond a doubt, the pandemic has hastened digital transformation and opened up a myriad of opportunities. Implementation of tech-enabled platforms and solutions is taking place across industries, and they are no less critical to healthcare. The ongoing crisis is prompting digital leaders in the health sector to reconsider how to best leverage technology to serve the pressing current need as well as future requirements.

In a normal year, healthcare institutions around the world spend trillions of dollars to address growing healthcare challenges. With the unprecedented numbers of patients seeking care, as outpatients or admissions, health systems in hard-hit areas have been put under even more strain – with demands for space, supplies and staff far outstripping supply.

Moreover, as health services crumble under the number, patients reach out to other peripheral agencies and institutions looking for help anywhere they think they can get it. Facilities, systems, infrastructure, providers, paramedical staff and patients have been overwhelmed across the board, but far more so in areas that have poor or limited access to healthcare.

Peter Moore, Regional Managing Director for Asia Pacific and Japan, Worldwide Public Sector, Amazon Web Services

Against this backdrop, Amazon and Amazon Web Services (AWS) introduced a new global programme to support organisations working to improve health outcomes for underserved or underrepresented communities. They provided funding and technical expertise, committing $40 million over three years to assist in developing solutions to improve health outcomes.

OpenGov Asia had the opportunity to speak with Peter Moore, Regional Managing Director for Asia Pacific and Japan, Worldwide Public Sector, Amazon Web Services, to gain deeper insights into their accelerated transformation initiatives as well as to discuss projects and initiatives implemented by AWS that assist governments and the public sector to leverage AWS technologies in support of their missions and mandates.

Technology has accelerated transformation in the health sector

COVID-19 has created unprecedented challenges for healthcare across the board while also inspiring and driving innovation at an unprecedented rate. Without a doubt, the use of technology in healthcare has resulted in better patient diagnosis and treatment, as well as improved quality of life and the saving of many lives.

It is universally acknowledged that the pandemic has accelerated digital transformation and across the board, things have shifted entirely to a digital or hybrid mode. As things sort of settle, the question is, would these methods continue even after physical routines resume. “From a technology perspective, what does the future look like?”

Peter agree that the world is experiencing turbulence and churning; the key question that needs to be addressed is “how do government and public agencies respond?”.

According to Peter, COVID-19 has forced significant changes that have impacted many lives and marginalised large swathes of populations. Governments throughout the region are grappling with the ‘have nots’ rather than the ‘haves,’ which Peter feels, is rooted in politics and policies. The focus now has to be on equitable solutions for all citizens – students, employees and patients; urban or rural; low or high resource.

The fact is, even though the public sector was well on the path of digitisation and moving to the cloud before COVID-19, the pandemic has forced governments to rethink their cloud strategy. Peter believes that the primary driver behind this shift in the pre-COVID era was citizen demand for effective service delivery. Education, healthcare and civil service institutions started putting a web backend to enhance citizen service delivery and better capabilities for government employees.

As countries grappled with the challenge of scaling COVID-19 testing, they launched the AWS Diagnostic Development Initiative to help organisations around the world apply the power of the cloud to accelerate diagnostics research and development. Through this initiative, AWS committed $20 million in computing credits and customised expertise from the AWS Professional Services team to support customers using AWS to drive diagnostic innovations.

In February this year, AWS released the report, “Unlocking APAC’s Digital Potential: Changing Digital Skill Needs and Policy Approaches.” Prepared by strategy and economics consulting firm AlphaBeta and commissioned by AWS, the report analyses the digital skills applied by workers in their jobs today and the digital skills required by workforces over the next five years. The report focuses on six Asia Pacific countries: Singapore, Australia, India, Indonesia, Japan, and South Korea.”

Telehealth and telemedicine, two of the fastest-growing areas of healthcare, have proven to be lifesaving, facilitating safe and effective patient care from a distance and assisting physicians in pooling their resources when the virus was straining the healthcare system.

To strengthen such health care systems that show promise, AWS has launched new initiatives and a global programme focusing on health equity. “I find a lot of benefit in advising governments where I see things working well and where they can improve,” says Peter.

AWS global programme assists customers in developing solutions to improve health outcomes and equity.

Max Peterson, Vice President for AWS Worldwide Public Sector, says healthcare has changed at an astounding rate, as have the ways people work, live, learn and serve. In his opinion, governments and non-profits have, for the most part, done things in person. While many were working in the cloud to digitise and transform the delivery of their services, the pandemic has shown that digital solutions may well become the only interface with citizens customers and citizens in the future.

In such a rapidly evolving digital world, data, Peter firmly believes, plays one of the important roles for technological development. It must be better leveraged to promote more equitable and inclusive systems of care. Agencies must create more robust and informative datasets or clean existing datasets to improve accuracy about race, ethnicity, gender, disability, or other data points that will help to advance health equity for all. AWS is keen to support this capability delivery.

“What I have alluded to so far is that there’s going to be a huge demand on new capabilities and that demand is going to come from those who are currently underserved. So, we want to focus on giving access to health services for the underserved communities,” Peter confirms emphatically.

Roughly half of the world’s population lacks access to basic healthcare. The proposed projects will focus on underserved populations all over the world and will include the development of tools like telehealth and telemedicine to reach secluded and marginalised communities, remote patient monitoring, increasing the availability and impact of health workers and more. Promising Initiatives will get credit and technical assistance so that they can be brought to market.

The project’s second focus, Peter elaborated, is addressing social determinants of health (SDoH) – the environmental conditions in which people are born, live, learn, work, play, worship and age, these aspects hugely influence a wide range of health outcomes and risks. Safe housing, transportation, education, access to nutritious foods, clean air and water and other services are examples.

Across the world, AWS’ new global programme builds on its work with current customers who are harnessing AWS technologies to support their health equity programmes, which include:

  • National Health IT Collaborative for the Underserved (NHIT): Earlier this year, the non-profit debuted the cloud-powered Data Fusion Centre on AWS to assist in addressing intergovernmental data challenges and translating Social Determinants of Health (SDoH) data into actionable insights. Industry, academia, and communities can use the Centre to discover, explore, and visualise SDoH and health equity-related factors and their impact.
  • HealthImpact’s Trust a Nurse, Ask A Nurse: This non-profit is collaborating with community-based organisations throughout California to make registered nurses available for free, particularly in underserved and minority communities. A new telehealth service that provides education and support about COVID-19 and vaccine options is now available. Hippo Health, which runs on AWS, powers the telehealth platform, and Telehealth Consulting Services provide subject matter expertise.
  • Rush University Medical Centre Population Health Analytics Hub: The Chicago-based medical centre, which is a nationally recognised leader in quality and health equity, is establishing an analytics hub to address the clinical and social determinants of health that contribute to premature cardiovascular morbidity and mortality. Rush set up the COVID-19 analytic hub on AWS during the pandemic to integrate patient and operational data for rapid, targeted intervention.

As an example, Peter refers to India. It has a large population where all of SDoH issues are of vital importance. While those with resources in the country have access to doctors and excellent healthcare, many economically weaker sections cannot access those services. “Vaccinating the population in India has been a huge task. And we’ve been very involved in that through an application called CoWIN – a country-wide vaccine registration and scheduling management system.”

To address the need for health improvement in India, AWS is broadening this platform, which has been thus far focused on COVID-19, to include other diseases as well so that vaccinations can be provided to everyone in the country.

Making the world a better place with AWS Start-up Ramp

In line with its mission to make the world a better place, AWS recently expanded its Start-up Ramp programme in Southeast Asia. This new programme for early-stage start-ups developing solutions in health, digital government, smart cities, agriculture and space technology is committed to assisting entrepreneurs as they build, launch and grow their businesses.

It works to remove barriers for entrepreneurs who want to make an impact in the public sector by providing technical design and architecture reviews, mentorship, credit and assistance with go-to-market plans to successfully direct the public sector’s complex regulatory and security requirements.

Start-ups in their early stages that are focused on finding product-market fit and meeting their first customers can apply to become Start-up Ramp Innovators. Those with already paying customers who are focused on growth and scale can apply to become Start-up Ramp Members and gain access to programme benefits. Customers in Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam can now apply for the programme.

Conclusion

Peter recognises that health authorities around the world are at varying levels of readiness since the pandemic began and no one can predict what the future holds.

People have witnessed the rampant spread of COVID-19 across the globe and seen how it has ravaged economies, healthcare systems and taken far too many lives. As a result, the public and private sectors must develop faster solutions and respond in a more innovative, agile and equitable manner.

AWS will be deeply involved with helping to securely store, manage and analyse large amounts of health data as it is critical for advancing medical research and meeting the growing demand for high-quality health analytics.

Ultimately, AWS will continue to help to power and empower public health innovation!

About Peter James Moore

Peter James Moore is the Regional Managing Director for Amazon Web Services, Global Public Sector, where he is responsible for building and growing the public sector business (Government, Education, Healthcare, and Non-Profit Organisations) in Australia and New Zealand, India, Southeast Asia, Japan, and Korea.

He previously established Inventus Pte Ltd to provide strategic advice to foreign companies looking to enter the Asian market. Peter has been hired by Intellectual Ventures as a Strategic Business Consultant in the Office of the Chief Technology Officer, where he identifies and cultivates opportunities and potential partners for programmes in Asia and other international markets.

Before that, he was an experienced Microsoft General Manager with 25 years of IT Sales and Marketing experience (15 years at Microsoft) across all of Asia Pacific, having worked and lived in Australia, Singapore, and China. Product Marketing, Technology Evangelism, Sales Management, and complete Business Function and P&L Management have all been the roles he served at Microsoft. The last eight years have been focused on the Public Sector in Asia.

Prior to joining Microsoft, Peter worked for Intergraph for over 9 years in a variety of senior management positions covering Australia and New Zealand. He also had consulting assignments in South Africa and Hong Kong during this time. And before joining Intergraph, Peter was a Radio Technician in the Royal Australian Air Force, where he spent 9 years in Australia and Malaysia.

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