In a very short time, Americans have become increasingly familiar with the cloud. Not the white fluffy ones in the sky, but the cloud where much of our day-to-day computing takes place. Even for people who aren’t familiar with the term, they likely are familiar with the concept of accessing internet-based files from anywhere. Photos taken on your smartphone might be automatically uploaded to a cloud-based storage system where you can view or download those photos on your laptop. Just as this technology has become valuable in our daily lives, it has become valuable in public health.
At this year’s APHL Annual Meeting, Eduardo Gonzalez Loumiet, CEO of UberOps, presented on public health in the cloud. We asked Eddie a few questions about the system that he has worked to develop along with APHL informatics and the value that this platform offers public health laboratories and ultimately the American public.
Learn more about AIMS — AIMS Platform: Outpacing Pathogens from the Cloud
In simple terms, what is the AIMS platform? What is the role of UberOps?
AIMS stands for the APHL Informatics Messaging Services Platform. AIMS was developed in 2008 as part of the Public Health Laboratory Interoperability Project (PHLIP) focused on influenza surveillance with the CDC.
AIMS is a secure, cloud based environment that accelerates the implementation of health messaging by providing shared services to aid in the transport, validation, translation and routing of electronic data.
The AIMS Platform has grown to a community of more than 85 trading partners involved in several use cases including ELR, Whole Genome Sequencing, ARLN and NMI. New use cases are being discovered every day.
UberOps is an APHL partner that develops and supports the AIMS Platform. We work on the deep technical aspects of AIMS. Our focus is on continuously securing the environment, trading partner onboarding, and ensuring trading partners have the information and tools to leverage AIMS Platform benefits.
Why should public health labs use a cloud-based system? What are the benefits?
The benefits of using cloud computing have surpassed perceived risks. AIMS utilizes Amazon Web Services (AWS), the industry leader in Cloud computing. The benefits of cloud computing include:
- Security, high availability and reliability
- Centralized processing and message routing
- Real-time monitoring and audit systems
- Reduced message transport complexity
- Reduced data translation and transformation complexity
- Reduced development and support costs
- Flexible capacity infrastructure
- FISMA Moderate compliant applications
- FedRAMP compliant environment via the cloud provider
- Commitment to innovation and the future
Are public health laboratories the only labs using AIMS?
AIMS was built to serve public health laboratories. Over the last 18-24 months the AIMS infrastructure has expanded capability to allow public health agencies and a select group of private laboratories to securely exchange data as well. We have also seen an increase in cross-jurisdictional ELR data exchange between agencies. AIMS has also been used to host other non-profit data, such as STEVE 2.0, which focuses on exchanging birth and death records between states. And AIMS is being used to process data for the first time in the cloud through virtual workstations for the whole genome sequencing project. We are excited for the emerging possibilities!
Is it secure? How do I know my information won’t be stolen or misused?
The top priority for APHL and UberOps is a secure and compliant AIMS Platform. Stringent healthcare laws and regulations across jurisdictions are monitored on a regular basis, and revisited on a regular basis. The AIMS Platform is FISMA Moderate compliant, which requires a once per year third-party audit. In addition to the audit, the AIMS infrastructure is required to pass firewall penetration testing.
Each member of the AIMS Platform team attends yearly HIPAA privacy and security training. The AIMS dedicated security team uses advanced, real-time monitoring tools to proactively eliminate potential threats.
What does this mean for the public? Are there clear benefits for people in the community?
AIMS is an extension of everything our public labs represent in the United States. The ability to monitor and detect health threats quickly using a shared technology platform is an invaluable asset for the safety of all citizens. Preventing and/or predicting large expected (like influenza) and unexpected (like Zika) public health events is where the AIMS Platform serves our communities.
What does the future hold for AIMS?
APHL, UberOps and AIMS stakeholders are constantly looking to expand the functionality of the AIMS infrastructure. As the evolution of health data continues, we see new opportunities to assist with integrating data and providing a higher quality experience for trading partners, patients and citizens.
Our recent platform growth between public and private collaboration will continue, and we expect to expand AIMS application services (examples: Dashboards, Portals, LIMS), electronic case reporting and much more!