Today, Forbes released its annual list of the top 100 private cloud companies in the world. The 2017 Cloud 100 list includes both long standing players like Dropbox, Slack, Docusign, and newer entrants from the health tech space including Grand Rounds and Flatiron Health. Companies were selected by financial success and growth, leadership in the market, and company size and culture. The list recognizes diverse companies from a range of sectors and industries and interestingly only includes six health care companies. This comes at a time when digital health companies are under increasing pressure to demonstrate improved patient outcomes at lower costs.
We asked Souvik Das, SVP of Engineering at Grand Rounds, to reflect on progress made over the past year at Grand Rounds and where he sees cloud computing making the biggest impact on health care.
What does it mean to be recognized as one of the few health care companies on the 2017 Forbes Cloud 100 list?
Grand Rounds is doing cutting-edge technical work on the cloud to solve problems in health care. We aim to provide the best care by using data to match patients with high-quality physicians. We are working with large quantities of health care data and constantly analyzing that data to separate high-quality signal from “noise.”
We built our systems from the ground up in the cloud and continue to operate our entire systems on the cloud. It feels great to be recognized for our work— it validates that the health care industry is innovating and taking big leaps into cloud computing, machine learning, and mobile apps.
What has been your most exciting opportunity at Grand Rounds?
I recently celebrated my one year anniversary at Grand Rounds. What has been particularly exciting for me is seeing the company grow very rapidly in that timeframe. With that rapid growth comes the need to grow and scale our people, our processes, our product and technology platforms. The most exciting opportunity for me is to plan ahead and execute so that we can keep ahead of that steep growth curve.
What are some of the unique engineering challenges of working at the intersection of health care and technology?
There are quite a few interesting and unique engineering challenges that we are dealing with.
Privacy and security are top of mind for us, since we ingest large quantities of health care data. Many of these data sets contain highly personal and private health care related information, and it’s our top priority to protect and secure that data. Every product and technology decision we make is evaluated through the lens of privacy and security. Our engineers take the utmost care in encrypting all data that’s in transit as well as data that is stored at rest. As a result, one of our engineering challenges is to optimize our applications in performance and latency despite having to decrypt those data sets.
We are building our next generation data platform from scratch. The new platform will enable us to work with significantly more data at a much faster rate. In addition, it will also be able to vastly reduce our data query and data processing times. We are using a combination of data technologies like Kafka, Spark and Cassandra, and expect to achieve 100x our current scale using these systems.
Health care is an industry that is uniquely personal to each and every one of us. There is an inherent expectation from consumers that the product and services that we provide are going to be personalized for their individual needs. Given that expectation, we are constantly innovating to personalize and customize the products and services we offer to our patients and customers. We are building a highly personalized patient-centric data model so that we understand our patients in depth. It’s an interesting challenge for us to figure out what attributes of the patient’s health care history we want to show when the patient logs in. The data should be intuitive, visual, useful and actionable for the patient and should work across mobile and web devices. We are using React Native to build our next-generation front-end views that work seamlessly in mobile devices. We are very excited to work on this.
As we scale and integrate with many different health care services and providers, we will be building out a single sign on (SSO) platform for our patients. This will enable our patients to sign on once into the Grand Rounds portal and then seamlessly travel back and forth between our portal and other health care service providers. Integrating with multiple vendors with different authentication and authorization systems at scale is an interesting engineering challenge that we are thinking through.
At Grand Rounds, we are all about using data to efficiently and accurately match patients with high-quality physicians. For that, we are constantly building and improving specific models on our data science team. These condition-specific models allow us to effectively match patients with specific health care conditions with the most appropriate physicians. We are building an efficient model delivery pipeline to ship these models over to production systems. Once this platform is built, we expect to use this pipeline to deliver tens of models efficiently to our production systems so that we can quickly match patients with the highest quality physicians.
Where do you see the biggest opportunity for cloud computing to improve health care?
I believe that cloud computing is a transformative technology force. Cloud computing gives us an on-demand mechanism to scale up on computing, storage and networking infrastructure. This unique capability allows us to analyze massive quantities of data in relatively short periods of time, thereby leading to early and better diagnosis and outcomes. It will enable personalized delivery of health care services.
Most importantly, it will continue to unleash an amazing amount of innovation in the health care industry that will lead to better health care outcomes for patients at reduced costs.