OTN has moved its video-hosting platform to Amazon Web Services
October 30, 2019
Virtual care – the practice of offering remote healthcare services through communications technology – offers a practical way for patients to access a healthcare team regardless of their location. And as technologies evolve, there are more options that allow virtual care to rival the effectiveness of traditional medicine – for example, through videoconferencing and the addition of remote instruments.
Modern virtual care could be transformative for Canada, allowing the country to overcome its geographical challenges and truly deliver on the promise of equitable public healthcare to all its citizens. Advocates hope that this service will help improve access to critically needed services, such as primary care and mental health services, to Canadians in rural and remote communities.
OTN is delivering on that vision, providing two-way videoconferencing for patients in hospitals and rural locations throughout Ontario. In much of the province, accessing specialized care can be inconvenient and time-consuming, with patients in remote locations travelling hours to regional healthcare hubs. Virtual care, provided through OTN, can minimize travel and wait times, making the delivery of public healthcare in Ontario more cost-effective – and most importantly, more equitable.
The service has seen a spike in demand in recent years. It now offers care through 170,000 healthcare providers at more than 1,600 sites. Managing this increased demand through the network’s legacy IT infrastructure proved challenging – adding additional capacity to their on-premise system required downtime, which could, at times, increase wait times for healthcare providers in need of technical support.
OTN made the strategic decision to move its video-hosting platform to the cloud so it could spend more time serving patients and less time managing infrastructure.
“We wanted to be able to focus our internal resources on technical improvements that would enhance our customer experience, rather than the day-to-day tasks related to scaling the platform to meet demand,” said Alex Reidiboim, Lead Solutions Architect for OTN. “We wanted someone else to manage the scalability and operational infrastructure of our video environment for us, so we could deliver more value to customers.”
After selecting Amazon Web Services (AWS) as its cloud provider, OTN has been able to mitigate compliance risk and access real-time metrics that allows it to monitor the network, optimize capacity, and scale up and down as necessary.
“We considered all the top cloud providers, but AWS won because of its adaptability and flexibility,” said Reidiboim. “We also loved the number of features that could be implemented.”
Since moving to the cloud, OTN has been able to significantly reduce downtime and increase its functionality, without requiring the length of time that would be needed to manage on-premise. For example, at OTN’s launch mobile customers experienced connectivity problems, as some mobile providers required IPv6. In the on-premises environment, Reidiboim estimates that testing, determining the cause, and fixing the issue would have taken six months. But after migration to AWS, fixing the issue required no more than a week – without any downtime or impact on customers.
Instead, “because of AWS, OTN engineers are spending their time helping customers troubleshoot videoconferencing issues and making sure we’re providing the best healthcare experience,” Reidiboim explains.
Ultimately, OTN’s move to the cloud has enabled it to refocus on its core mission: delivering the best possible virtual care experience to the people of Ontario, especially those in remote, rural and underserviced regions.
Under its old system, OTN video engineers had to split their time between serving customers and dealing with mundane tasks such as hardware failure and adding additional capacity.
Now that they can automatically provision their platform, and scale it up or down on demand, OTN is able to improve its core service, helping healthcare providers troubleshoot video-conferencing issues and improve the user experience. The move has been so successful that the organization is looking to use its new cloud infrastructure to provide metrics not just to OTN engineers and management, but to other healthcare stakeholders.
With a solid cloud foundation under its feet, OTN is focusing on improving its operations and making efficiencies. In the future, OTN will leverage its cloud services to create operational dashboards – making detailed metrics readily available to stakeholders.
Rejean Bourgault is Public Sector Lead for Amazon Web Services (AWS) in Canada.