The COVID-19 pandemic was a real turning point, not only for people, but also for businesses across the world. Organizations had to change their operating models overnight and adapt to new ways of working to ensure business continuity and to manage the demands of the pandemic. Organizations, especially in the most impacted sectors like healthcare, had to innovate quickly and develop new ways of working to meet the country’s most immediate needs.

As hospitals had to drastically increase capacity and shift their day-to-day operations to manage the escalating nature of the pandemic, UK Digital Health Care company Lumeon deployed a new solution to help overburdened emergency service teams. In just one week, the company designed and deployed a COVID-19 remote patient monitoring solution for NYC Health + Hospitals, the largest state-owned hospital system in the U.S. operating public hospitals and clinics across New York City.

Using a range of AWS services, the solution is designed to alleviate the pressure on hospitals and clinicians by digitally screening and enrolling symptomatic patients onto an SMS-based home-monitoring programme. It assesses symptom severity and trending, as well as any underlying conditions that may put them at risk, and automatically escalates patients with worsening respiratory symptoms for urgent treatment. Created for times when a rapid response is needed, the solution can be integrated and deployed quickly and securely to help hospitals to better manage their capacity and operations.

Every single day, over the past few months, I have heard story after story like this, of organizations turning to the cloud to expand, or stand up services, at a speed and scope that would have seemed unimaginable to them a few weeks before.

What’s more, they have done this under immense pressure, and in many cases, literally overnight.

This is what scaling really means. Too often, organizations have been led to believe that their existing systems or software solutions are built to scale, or rather to grow in response to demand. But what we’ve seen during this pandemic is that many organizations’ systems have not been prepared for the level of demand they are experiencing.

When I talk to public sector organizations about how the cloud can help them scale, I am talking about the kind of speed and flexibility that will allow them to build new applications and services in a matter of days, even hours.

The capabilities we’ve built over the past 14 years have enabled us to serve our customers during this incredibly difficult time, and to step in to support organizations whose legacy systems have not been up to the challenge.

In a global public health crisis, when saving time is a matter of saving lives, the importance of having the right systems in place to enable you to move quickly can’t be understated.

That’s especially true for organizations coordinating the global response to the pandemic.

For several months now, we’ve been working with the World Health Organization (WHO) to help accelerate its global efforts to disseminate important guidance, information and resources in an effort to better contain the spread of COVID-19.

We provided the World Health Organization Academy (WHOA) with free hosting services to enable it to launch the app to support health workers around the world in caring for patients infected by COVID-19, as well as to protect themselves as they do this critical work. The app enables health workers to access the WHO’s rapidly expanding bank of COVID-19 learning resources and guidance, along with offering virtual skills workshops and other live training.

We are also working on providing machine learning and media services to facilitate and speed up the production of WHO learning material in different languages, with the aim of achieving sufficient accuracy to reduce the turnaround time on each piece of content from a few days, to a couple of hours. WHO is also using our services to develop a tool to enable specific classifications of large volumes of COVID-19-related content from around the globe even more effectively. The tool will use machine learning to help classify the tone of content in the system, for example identifying rumours or intentional misinformation, facilitating understanding of and response to the so-called COVID-19 ‘infodemic’ and making credible information easier for the expert community to find and assess.­

It’s vital that organisations like WHO have the ability to share reliable, expert-led, up-to-the minute information with all those working on the same problems, so everyone can identify what works as quickly as possible and double down on it, rather than duplicating efforts.

Another example is the development of a new knowledge platform called REDASA (REaltime Data Analysis and Synthesis), which is being developed by PanSurg, a COVID-19 surgical network made up of Imperial College London’s healthcare professionals and academics.

Using a combination of AWS machine learning services, including Natural Language search and data labelling built on Amazon Kendra and Amazon SageMaker Ground Truth, and human review, REDASA is able to analyze vast amounts of COVID-19 information in real-time and quickly extract the most important insights, saving tens of thousands of hours previously required for manual research. Over half a million sources are being analyzed, including medical journals, healthcare literature and news sources, enabling clinicians and policymakers to find the best available evidence for better patient treatments at a speed not possible with conventional approaches. REDASA was built using AWS technologies together with two AWS Partner Network partners, Cloudwick and MirrorWeb.

This is what ‘scaling’ can, and should, look like.It’s continuing to effectively communicate with your citizens when faced with an onslaught of enquiries.

It’s rapidly reproducing vital, reliable educational content and making it available and accessible to as many people who need it as possible.

It’s sifting through masses of data, with precision and speed, to identify the pieces of information that might hold the key to curing a deadly disease.

And while cloud technology enables this, it’s also down to people – people and their endless ingenuity in the face of adversity.

Repeatedly, this crisis has shown us that people always have the capacity to ‘scale’ their thinking beyond than their current circumstances. And when they have the right systems in place to support big ideas, they can realize the full scope of their vision.

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