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eHealth NSW develops world-first cloud architecture

15 September 2022

eHealth NSW has achieved world and Australian firsts developing clinical application cloud architecture as a new standard with hyperscale providers.

NSW Health’s digital organisation established partnerships with Amazon Web Services (AWS) and Microsoft Azure to accelerate the adoption of public cloud in line with NSW Government policy. It also enabled us to scale rapidly to meet unexpected challenges and changing environment factors.

eHealth NSW Service Delivery Executive Director, Farhoud Salimi, said “This wasn’t a cloud migration lift and shift. It was a transformation where we developed new intellectual property for these apps to work on the cloud. We not only transformed the apps but changed our way of working. We worked closely with our app vendors and cloud partners to co-design and rebuild our critical clinical apps after we upskilled and restructured our people into cross-functional DevOps teams.”

Cloud architecture an Australian first

Globally, hospital patient administration system i.PatientManager was the first of its kind to use AWS cloud-native technology and genetics software TrakGene was the first of this system to move to the cloud. The state medical imaging repository is the largest early adopter of the NetApp FSx service on AWS globally.

Australian firsts were also achieved for cloud optimised and fully automated deployments of Enterprise Patient Repository (EPR) and Electronic Oral Health Record (eOHR) on AWS. Directory management software Quest Active Tools (QAT) was the first instance deployed on Azure.

Automation was a major objective to enable rapid infrastructure scaling in response to COVID-19.

eHealth NSW’s Daniel Hansen shared some insights into how eHealth NSW approached the challenge. “We leveraged infrastructure as code so we could automate the deployment and management of 90 per cent of our apps in scope. Autoscale was then implemented for 50 per cent of our applications.

Ability to scale services enhances deployment

Autoscaling takes advantage of the elasticity of cloud-hosted environments while easing management overhead. It reduces the need for an operator to continually monitor the performance of a system and make decisions about adding or removing resources.

“Vendor software was also used for automation. We leveraged relational database services and micro-segmentation using Azure Network Security Groups and cloud-native load balancers across all the apps.

“We’ve increased our speed of deployment from a six-week average down to one day. The reliability and repeatability of deployments unlock greater flexibility for disaster recovery, scalability, and release management,” said Daniel.

The program de-risks existing NSW Health ICT infrastructure and creates a more stable, state-wide digital platform for ongoing innovative development and delivery of patient-centric systems. Effectively, cloud modernisation is providing vastly improved services for the NSW public.

Farhoud said: “I’m so proud of my teams for developing world-leading cloud products with our partners. We’re making a difference for the people of New South Wales and there’s a lot more work in the pipeline.”

The eHealth NSW Critical Infrastructure Refresh Program will run until June 2025.

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