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Qcentive Controls AWS Costs & Enables Cloud Computing in Healthcare with ParkMyCloud

The Massachusetts-based healthcare startup Qcentive, the developer of a cloud-based platform that helps healthcare companies with the creation and management of value-based contracts, was one of the first companies authorized to move healthcare data to the cloud.

The first-in-class transaction platform has been certified as HIPAA compliant and incorporates appropriate safeguards to ensure the confidentiality, integrity, and availability of ePHI. The company uploads patient and healthcare contract information to AWS, where the data are accessed by the company’s application.

The platform helps its health plan clients and their value-based contracting providers analyze claims data and patient information such as emergency room visits and use the information to quickly calculate potential savings.

While developing the platform, Qcentive uploaded large quantities of patient and claim data to AWS and created AWS resources as necessary, although as many companies discover, AWS costs can quickly mount up. Qcentive tried to find a way to keep its AWS costs under control, starting with rightsizing resources and using Reserved Instances. That resulted in savings of around 30%-40% over their on-demand EC2 costs. However, such a strategy was not ideal, as Reserved Instances require a long-term commitment for non-production instances.

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Qcentive was running instances 24/7/365 and was being charged by the minute, even though those resources did not need to be running round the clock and were often underutilized. The company experimented with switching off resources using standard AWS tools and restarting them when needed. However, that tactic lacked flexibility and greater user governance was required.

The firm searched for a tool that allowed automated scheduling of AWS resources and discovered ParkMyCloud. The PArkMyCloud platform allowed Qcentive to run instances 12 hours a day instead of 24, halving the company’s cloud costs.

Using the platform to automate and schedule resources resulted in immediate savings of 20% on its AWS bill, while maintaining flexible access for its end users. Schedules are set on resources with them typically running 12 hours a day Monday to Friday. If access to resources is required outside of the scheduled hours, such as over the weekend, they can be easily switched back on via a mobile app.

Now the firm is placing all AWS instances, databases and auto-scaling groups on a schedule and only turns the instances on when there is a workload to run. Around 40%-50% of its resources are now only running Monday to Friday, resulting in significant savings. The cost of the ParkMyCloud platform is covered through the savings that have been realized, and the firm is now saving far more than was possible using Reserved Instances.

“Reserved Instances look great the day you buy them, but then the first time you have to change the size on something, all of the sudden you’ve got Reserved Instances that you’re not using anymore. With ParkMyCloud that never happens. It’s all savings,” said Bill Gullicksen, Director of IT, Qcentive.

Author: Steve Alder is the editor-in-chief of HIPAA Journal. Steve is responsible for editorial policy regarding the topics covered on HIPAA Journal. He is a specialist on healthcare industry legal and regulatory affairs, and has several years of experience writing about HIPAA and other related legal topics. Steve has developed a deep understanding of regulatory issues surrounding the use of information technology in the healthcare industry and has written hundreds of articles on HIPAA-related topics.