axialHealthcare Runs HIPAA-Compliant Virtual Contact Center on Amazon Connect05/16/2019
It’s no secret that America is in the grip of an opioid-addiction crisis. In 2017, 11.4 million people misused prescription opioids at least once; 2.1 million people misused opioids chronically; and 47,600 died from opioid overdoses—more than 130 per day.
Many companies and organizations exist to help people recover from addiction. But what if opioid misuse and abuse could be identified before turning into addiction? Doesn’t the technology exist to flag high-risk patterns and intervene?
In a word, yes—and that is precisely what axialHealthcare does. The company uses data and technology solutions supplemented with clinical care to improve the well-being of patients in pain, reduce clinically unwarranted opioid prescribing, and find associated savings for its health plan clients.
One of the ways axialHealthcare accomplishes this is by ingesting data on prescriptions and claims into an analytics platform based on Amazon Web Services (AWS) that uses machine-learning algorithms to identify opioid misuse and addiction patterns. The platform uses Amazon RedShift and Amazon Elastic MapReduce (EMR) for scalable data storage and cost-effective, high-volume data processing. Cases needing intervention are referred to axialHealthcare’s Clinical Consult Services (CCS) team members for follow-up by phone or in-person visits.
In addition to the highly qualified team performing this work, axialHealthcare’s CCS offering depends on a geographically distributed, HIPAA-compliant, virtual contact center powered by Amazon Connect. This self-service, cloud-based contact center service is built on the same technology used by Amazon customer service associates around the world.
Cost-Effective HIPAA Compliance on AWS
“We wake up every day thinking about how to improve the lives of patients who are in pain or struggling on the edge of addiction,” says Kevin Harvey, the vice president of engineering at axialHealthcare. “We launched our CCS offering to ensure practitioners are familiar with our pain-care and opioid-therapy resources.”
To make its CCS offering viable, axialHealthcare had some important boxes to tick. “The CCS team consists of licensed clinical pharmacists, engagement specialists, and behavioral health coaches,” says Harvey. “Given HIPAA and state-level licensing requirements, one option was to set up separate call centers in all four states we serve, but that would have been cost-prohibitive.”
The best solution was for CCS team members to work from home, but this approach posed challenges related to infrastructure procurement and management, HIPAA compliance, scalability, and integration with the company’s internal customer relationship management (CRM) solution, called Consult. To overcome these challenges, axialHealthcare began researching cloud-based contact center solutions. The company evaluated five of them before selecting Amazon Connect.
“We’ve been all in on AWS since our founding in 2012, but we still evaluated all options,” says Joseph Degati, former chief information officer for axialHealthcare. “Amazon Connect won for several reasons. First, Amazon Connect is HIPAA-eligible, which is a non-negotiable starting point for us. Because Amazon Connect could enable HIPAA compliance and was covered under our existing Business Associate Addendum, we saw that we could avoid purchasing an on-premises call center solution, which would have cost 3 or 4 times as much. Finding companies that would sign a BAA with us was surprisingly difficult, and some companies wouldn’t talk to us because we couldn’t guarantee 50 seats.”
In addition to Amazon Connect, axialHealthcare’s cloud-based contact center uses Amazon Kinesis Data Streams (Amazon KDS) to monitor agent status events and Amazon Simple Storage Service (Amazon S3) to store call recordings as objects. An AWS Lambda function adds new call data to existing records in Consult. axialHealthcare is in the development phase of integrating Amazon Transcribe and Amazon Comprehend for real-time call transcripts, conversation analysis, and automated escalation or rerouting.
Fast Setup, Simple Integration, and Streamlined Compliance
Given axialHealthcare‘s remote, multistate workforce, one of the biggest benefits of Amazon Connect is how easily the company can now add new remote agents to its distributed, HIPAA-compliant, virtual contact center.
“Amazon Connect is crucial to our business model in the regulatory environment we operate in,” says Harvey. “When our hiring team finds a CCS candidate, we don’t have to find office space for them. With Amazon Connect, they can work from home or anywhere else they have an internet connection, while remaining in their state of licensure. On Amazon Connect, we’re freed from infrastructure and office space considerations without affecting HIPAA compliance.”
The axialHealthcare team found Amazon Connect easy to understand and set up. “Getting started with Amazon Connect is simple—and I say that as someone with no prior telecom experience,” says Harvey. “With a few clicks on your AWS console, you can have a software phone ready to test calls in minutes. Especially if you’re familiar with AWS, setup and exploration on Amazon Connect are extremely streamlined.”
Amazon Connect also eases HIPAA compliance for axialHealthcare. “Without this solution, it would have been a challenge to have the required visibility into our data inventory and control over it,” says Harvey. “Storing call recordings in Amazon S3 makes it simple for us to comply with HIPAA confidentiality rules.”
The Amazon Connect solution is yet one more example of the flexibility that first attracted axialHealthcare to AWS. “There’s really no limit to what axialHealthcare can build with Amazon Connect as the foundation, especially given that AWS already offers 100 HIPAA-eligible services and counting,” says Degati. “With those technologies there waiting for us, we know we can implement just about anything we dream up. The speed of responding to changing business needs with Amazon Connect and the rest of AWS is unlike anything I’ve seen with any other cloud provider and is a powerful growth enabler.”