Nicky Murphy is passionate about the power of technology to drive health system transformation to deliver better outcomes and services for populations and individuals. The Head of Healthcare Public Policy (EMEA) at Amazon Web Services (AWS) helps support policymakers and health system leaders globally to realise their transformation goals by leveraging cloud technology.

The Covid-19 pandemic, she believes has brought both significant challenges and a huge acceleration in the adoption and use of the cloud: “It’s been very exciting to see the changing approach to the use of data during the pandemic. Cloud technology was previously held in high regard in health systems but in the past year it has given organisations an understanding of how powerful it is to have real-time access to that information and data,” she said.

In essence, in response to the challenges presented by Covid-19, health systems have used cloud technology to improve care and support services for citizens and patients, provide decision makers with access to information in real-time – and also accelerate the pace of research and innovation.

The demands for healthcare have been constantly changing throughout the pandemic – and so fast – that establishing new services, moving existing services online and scaling services to support digital delivery at a new level was crucial.

With an extensive portfolio of healthcare and life sciences solutions, she said that AWS provides the security and privacy to operate in a highly-regulated industry and provides the tools to implement these service changes swiftly and safely. “The computing power can be flexed up and down as required – the beauty of the cloud is that you pay for what you need as you turn it on and turn it off,” she said.

“During the pandemic we’ve seen the need for public sec-tor organisations to set up new services to serve their customers very swiftly, responding to emerging needs. For example, I don’t think many of us had heard of contact tracing app before last year, and now we have the Scottish contact tracing app built on AWS which we set up securely and quickly, with cloud technology allowing the partner, Near-Form, to do this without the need to invest upfront capital to buy servers or build a data centre.”

Near Me, a secure form of video consulting approved for use by the Scottish Government and NHS Scotland, particularly for outpatient appointments is an example. “Applications such as these, powered by cloud technology, have meant that patients have been able to receive care from specialist clinicians and continue on their pathway to treatment, throughout the pandemic.

Imperial College London and Pansurg’s REDASA (Realtime Data Analysis and Synthesis) platform is another project enabled by cloud technology. It supports the response to the “infodemic” – or over-abundance of information generated during the pandemic – with a global knowledge platform that combines AI with human expertise to quickly make sense of the vast amount of Covid-19 data being generated and helps clinicians to find better treatments for Covid-19 and other diseases.

The security of patients’ information clearly is a key consideration and Murphy said: “At AWS, security of our customers’ data is our top priority. Our customers are able to use AWS services in a way that is not only compliant with all the security criteria that NHS Digital sets out, but that also exceeds these security requirements in line with international best practice.”

Amazon, she added is “incredibly committed to having an environmentally sustainable business and to supporting our customers to achieve their own sustainability goals and we’ll achieve 100 per cent renewable energy by 2025, five years earlier than we set out to do so. Amazon is committed to this globally, and in the UK our AWS data centres will be powered by Scottish renewable energy from wind farms in South Lanarkshire and the Kintyre peninsula.”

Cloud technology, she concluded, has been key to enabling health systems to respond to the pan-demic, providing services directly to citizens, supporting decision-makers to make informed decisions and enabling researchers to accelerate time to insight and innovation during the pandemic. “And there’s so much more that we can build on: by harnessing the power of cloud technology further, health systems can continue to see fantastic innovation at scale, to the benefit of patients and the health service.”