In the early days of the COVID-19 pandemic, New York was one of the areas hardest hit with more than 300,000 known cases by late May. To support the COVID-19 response efforts, the New York State Department of Health faced a major data challenge, collating clinical data being received from six separate healthcare information exchanges (HIEs), referred to as qualified entities (QEs), across the state. From this challenge, came a partnership with Amazon Web Services (AWS) and AWS Consulting Partner Cloudticity, to create the nation’s first COVID-19 registry.

The New York State Department of Health was able to manage disparate data sources in the midst of this evolving pandemic by looking at new solutions and alternative ways of doing things, including cloud solutions. Cloud solutions help agencies move at a speed that meets the needs of their citizens. Embracing cloud technology for program-focused initiatives can take implementation timelines from months to days, allowing enough flexibility that requirements can quickly change to fit the needs of the program. With speed, efficiency, and robust tools, the AWS Cloud is able to adapt to any data needs.

The New York State Department of Health regularly collects a breadth of information from the healthcare system in the State, but at the start of the pandemic did not have a process to ingest large clinical data sets directly from the QEs. There was an existing system for the data to be shared amongst health care entities, the Statewide Health Information Network for New York (SHIN-NY), but not a way for the state health department to connect to the network to support the public health need. This data was needed to help state agencies see a more complete picture of how COVID-19 impacted New York residents and what steps they could take to slow the spread. The department worked with AWS and Cloudticity to quickly stand up a database to capture real-time, COVID-19 clinical data. This database included symptoms, length of stay at the hospital, and co-morbidities (underlying health conditions). This database became a powerful tool in New York’s arsenal for the fight against COVID-19.

It took only 11 days for the department, along with AWS and Cloudticity, to roll out the database and train staff on how to use it. This involved rapidly onboarding the six QEs and coordinating with more than 118 stakeholders across the state. The quick movement from procurement through to implementation underscores the art of what’s possible when it comes to coordinating across large teams and expediting technology implementations with new efficiencies.

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