Researchers at the Center for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta Georgia have been using virtual software lab technologies to analyse, test and refine new applications before taking them into live production environments.
Using a portion of private cloud capacity belonging to the Informatics Research and Development Activity (IRDA), researchers are now using virtualisation technology that lets them experiment with software and web development services in new ways.
This experimentation is hoped to extend to new methods of disease control as the scientists gain more freedom over the technology underpinning their research.
From Georgia to Alaska
The IRDA is now said to be working on as many as 100 software development projects extending from Georgia in America’s deep south to the northern wilderness of Alaska.
US website Government Computer News reports on an occurrence where scientists working to support a chronic kidney disease programme used this ‘R&D cloud’ to get user feedback on the development of a web front end for a knowledge portal.
The web forum (doctor) will see you now
This type of web forum appears to now be more favourable to older more traditional methods such as setting up focus groups.
“A few years ago we did not exist,” said Tom Savel, director of IRDA. “I think there was recognition in the agency that there needed to be a dedicated team of people that were focusing on cutting-edge technology and trying to help push the envelope for public health.”
A new breeding ground
With government IT currently thundering towards the cloud on both sides of the Atlantic and further afield, healthcare and medicine comes to the fore as a vibrant new breeding ground (excuse the expression) for cloud technologies.
Here in the UK, InferMed Limited has developed a cloud-based technology hosted by Rackspace Hosting to support the ‘Digital First’ strategy introduced by NHS Direct where people are now accessing NHS Direct’s services online than via the telephone.
The platform allows the delivery of online assessments and is said to provide greater choice for the patients that make 780,000 visits per month to access the NHS Direct health and symptom checkers online.
Digital (cloud) remote care
Duane Lawrence, CEO of InferMed Limited said, “NHS Direct made an historically important decision to lead the way in the adoption of advanced online services to provide an exciting new platform for the delivery of digital remote care. These new clinical self-assessment tools are a forerunner of the way in which people will interact with the NHS in the future. The new services were initially available via the web and have since transitioned to wider channels.”
Since the launch of this service, Rackspace has reportedly responded with adjustments to the hosting infrastructure (due to its popularity) including additional load balancers and increased the system memory.