In the dynamic landscape of healthcare and pharmacy network solutions, Encora has developed an innovative system for prominent healthcare solution providers. This groundbreaking solution enables real-time sharing of patient health information, including vaccination records, in multiple formats such as JSON, QR Codes, and FHIR.
The heart of this achievement lies in integrating a powerful REST API fueled by Azure API management services and Snowflake's Search Optimization Feature. This harmonious blend empowers us to efficiently disseminate patient smart health card data, making it accessible in the most user-friendly and interoperable forms.
In this article, we delve into the technical details of this transformative project within the Health Care and Pharmacy Network Solution domain, primarily focusing on the pivotal role played by Azure API Management services.
Revolutionizing Health Verification: The Power of Vaccine Passport Data and Real-time Patient Health
Image Source: https://www.gao.gov/products/gao-21-534sp
With the widespread adoption of vaccine data verification at key locations such as airports, malls, event venues, and public spaces, ensuring individuals' vaccination status has become a critical public health measure. Vaccine Passport Data, or digital documentation that displays individual vaccination details, has emerged as a pivotal tool, gaining traction during the COVID-19 pandemic. It streamlined the immunization verification process against the virus, allowing entry to specific venues, international travel, and other activities.
As the adoption of Vaccine Passport Data or Smart Health Card continues to rise as a verification standard, our healthcare clients and vendors have approached us with a dynamic challenge: to provide the most up-to-date patient health card and vaccination details in real-time. This entails delivering requested patient health card information within mere seconds. Additionally, there has been a growing demand for this information in QR code format. QR codes make verification at crowded locations like airports, malls, and public events incredibly efficient and enable instant access to an individual's complete vaccination information. Beyond QR codes, we've also received customer requests to support other standard formats like JSON and FHIR messages.
Please visit the Smart Health Card home page here to learn more about Smart Health Cards and technical specifications.
Please see the VCI page to learn more about how Smart Health Cards empower individuals to gain access to their verifiable clinical information.
With its innovative technological capabilities, Encora rose to the occasion by enabling the Smart Health Card and Vaccine Passport solutions. Not only did these solutions meet the diverse needs of our clients, but they exceeded them, ensuring the highest levels of accuracy, security, and speed while delivering critical healthcare data.
Introduction to Azure API Management Services
Before we delve into the technical intricacies, let's take a moment to understand the critical player in this domain - Azure API Management. A comprehensive, cloud-based service that facilitates the seamless management, security, and monitoring of APIs, Azure API Management is a gateway between our REST API and external systems, ensuring our healthcare solution remains robust and accessible. It empowers us to expose our backend services securely, control access through various authentication methods, and limit the requests an API can receive in a given time frame. This ensures that only authenticated users can access our API while guarding against malicious attacks. As we journey through this article, you'll discover how Azure API Management services are at the forefront of our mission to provide real-time access to patient health information.
Azure API Management Components
Azure API Management Key Features
Leveraging the Versatility of Azure API Management Services
Azure API Management proved indispensable in realizing Encora's real-time patient Smart Health Card service. The service excels in managing APIs across diverse cloud platforms and on-premises environments, optimizing traffic flow, and ensuring security and compliance.
Azure API Management empowered us to protect critical resources by expertly controlling data exposure, applying robust authentication, authorization, and usage limits, and safeguarding patient health information. One of its key contributions was accelerating our business initiatives. Encora built applications faster and delivered immediate value to our clients thanks to our API-first approaches. These decoupled front-and-back-end teams facilitated API mocking, supported API revisions and versioning, and offered automated API documentation.
Azure API Management improved API discoverability by allowing us to create a customized developer portal, making API management and sharing seamless for internal teams, external partners, and customers. Additionally, it transformed our existing services, enabling us to turn legacy web services into modern REST-based APIs and thus enhancing our healthcare solution.
The service's security features were equally instrumental in allowing us to consolidate APIs behind a single static IP or domain, protecting them with keys, tokens, and IP filtering, enforcing flexible quotas and rate limits, and even modifying API behavior using policies. While response caching improved latency, integrating on-premises and cloud environments improved safety and efficiency. In essence, Azure API Management played a pivotal role in ensuring our real-time healthcare solution's robustness, security, and efficiency.
Before we delve into the intricate technical details, it's essential to understand the foundational prerequisites that laid the groundwork for our innovative healthcare solution. At the core of our endeavor was the need for a reliable, centralized system to manage and distribute patient health card and vaccination data. To achieve this, we needed:
A Central Database System and Data Warehouse Platform: Our solution hinges on having a central repository capable of continuous data injection. This platform should efficiently handle data from various sources, ensuring it's updated in real-time. The constant injection and processing of vaccination data are essential to keep patient information current.
Solution Architecture Diagram
This section will dive into the technology that powers our innovative healthcare solutions. The combination of Snowflake's cutting-edge features, such as semi-structured data support, Snowpark, Python libraries, Search Optimization, SQL API, and Azure's API management services, forms the backbone of our real-time patient health card system. These tools and technologies have enabled us to meet the evolving demands of the healthcare industry by providing efficient access to patient vaccination data in various formats.
Join us on this technical journey as we explore the inner workings of our solution.
- Azure API Management (APIM): Our REST API, fueled by Azure API Management services, serves as the front-end gateway for our healthcare solution. It offers robust security, access control, and traffic management, ensuring only authorized users access our API. With Azure API Management, we can efficiently manage and monitor our API, safeguarding its reliability and performance.
- Snowflake as the Data Platform: Snowflake serves as our enterprise data warehouse platform, providing the central repository for healthcare data. With data pipelines capturing information in real-time from various source applications, data undergoes a refining process, enhancing its accuracy and reliability. The result, including our solution, is a central hub for different healthcare use cases.
- Semi-Structured Data Support for Multiple Formats: Our patient health card and vaccination information come in various formats, including JSON and FHIR. Snowflake's semi-structured data support allows us to handle this data, enabling quick access and delivery efficiently. It offers a comprehensive suite of data ingestion, storage, and processing functions, accommodating complex, hierarchical data structures.
- Snowpark & Python Libraries Support for QR Code Generation: A unique requirement from our healthcare clients was providing patient health card data in QR code format for quick and convenient verification. While traditionally, Python code for QR code generation would run externally, Snowflake's Snowpark and Python libraries support allowed us to perform this task within Snowflake. This innovation eliminated the need for additional infrastructure and services, improving efficiency.
- Snowflake Search Optimization for Rapid Response: Real-time access to individual patient records is a core requirement of our solution. Snowflake's Search Optimization Service (SOS) ensures sub-second response times for point-lookup queries, which is crucial in a healthcare context where speed is of the essence. This feature, combined with Snowflake's new capabilities, extended the platform's capabilities beyond analytics to support transactional workloads.
- Snowflake SQL API: To connect with Snowflake and fetch patient health card data, we employ the Snowflake SQL API. This REST API simplifies interactions with Snowflake through HTTP requests, enabling seamless integration with other systems.
Encora's journey from concept to reality is a testament to the dedication and effort invested in creating a cutting-edge healthcare solution. Over 4-6 weeks, we embarked on this transformative project, and the timeline offers a glimpse into our progress:
Proof of Concept (POC) - Weeks 1-2: The project's first few weeks were dedicated to developing a small proof of concept (POC). During this phase, we harnessed Snowflake's advanced features, explored the capabilities of semi-structured data support, and successfully developed an API for generating QR codes, facilitating the efficient presentation of vaccination information. This POC laid the foundation for our real-time solution.
Production-Ready Deployment - Weeks 3-6: In the subsequent 4-5 weeks, we shifted our focus towards making the POC code production-ready. This entailed rigorous testing, refining the code, and ensuring its readiness for deployment in a real-world healthcare environment. As a result, we were well-prepared to provide real-time patient health card and vaccination data, enhancing accessibility and safety for individuals and communities. This timeline showcases the evolution of our project from its initial stages to a full-fledged, production-ready healthcare solution.
In the ever-evolving landscape of healthcare and pharmacy network solutions, real-time access to patient health card and vaccination data is paramount. This article has unveiled the development of a groundbreaking solution by Encora, with a primary focus on the pivotal role of Azure API Management services. These services serve as the front-end gateway for our REST API, providing robust security, access control, and traffic management. Together with Snowflake's Search Optimization Feature, they play a crucial role in making real-time patient health information accessible.
Our journey showcases the power of innovation and collaboration in addressing the pressing healthcare needs of our time. With Azure API Management services at the forefront, we've streamlined the delivery of critical patient health information, ensuring it's readily available, secure, and efficient. As the healthcare landscape continues to evolve, this achievement is a testament to our commitment to revolutionizing healthcare accessibility.
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