Change Healthcare is a leader in improving patient care through software, analytics, network solutions, and technology-enabled services. The company serves 5,500 hospitals with 2,200 payer connections. Brent Strong, the manager of Cloud Engineering & Operations, maintains and optimizes the company’s multicloud infrastructure. His core duties include successfully migrating applications and workloads, managing governance and cost, and mitigating operational risk.
Change Healthcare's cloud challenges
Several years ago, Change Healthcare began what turned into an increasing focus on analytics, healthcare intelligence, and market data. In tandem, it also began a parallel shift to the Amazon Web Services (AWS) cloud. Like many other enterprises, Change Healthcare adopted cloud computing to achieve greater flexibility, optimize costs, and ultimately, keep pace with the ever-changing healthcare industry. However, as they continued migrating off of legacy systems, Brent and his team realized that they would need a platform to help effectively manage their new cloud environment.
Finding a solution
“Our AWS account manager highly recommended CloudHealth,” recalls Brent. “We still evaluated other solutions, but CloudHealth demonstrated the most value. It had the best cost management capabilities, as well as strong automation features that would enable us to set policies and define actions. Another killer feature was the Reserved Instance (RI) modifications.”
Brent expands on how consolidated visibility and cost factored into his decision: “I don’t want surprises, and CloudHealth offers transparency that allows me to drill down to a very fine grain. I can see not just what I spent with AWS, but exactly how I spent it. The next level is reporting out to management; for obvious reasons, they are always concerned with cost. I send CloudHealth reports to management and finance teams so they can also get the information they need.”
Lastly, future infrastructure changes were also a key consideration. With multicloud strategies becoming increasingly popular among cloud customers, Brent had shared, “we may be using both AWS and Azure, or others, in the near future. CloudHealth is equipped to manage across hybrid and multicloud environments, which is definitely a plus.” Since then, Change Healthcare has had several mergers and acquisitions, with one of the most impactful to their cloud strategy being the merger with McKesson in 2017. This merger not only tripled the size of the company, but it also added a significant Microsoft Azure footprint to their infrastructure. More recently, the company has started using Google Cloud Platform (GCP) because of its strong API capabilities, support for containers, and artificial intelligence functions.
"Onboarding Azure and GCP has been a lot easier than if we didn’t have a multicloud management platform like CloudHealth."Manager of Cloud Engineering & Operations, Change Healthcare
With CloudHealth, Change Healthcare has a single pane of glass into their spend by cloud and product. “The time to maturity around our financial management has really been reduced… and onboarding Azure and GCP has been a lot easier than if we didn’t have a multicloud management platform like CloudHealth,” said Brent.
"The CIS checks are fantastic, because that allows me to see the exact level of control I have over my system, and understand whether we’re in compliance, all in one place."Manager of Cloud Engineering & Operations, Change Healthcare
Regarding CloudHealth support, Brent noted, “the best way to use support is to not need it because there is enough documentation. We found that to be the case with CloudHealth. However, anytime we’ve had questions, support has been seamless and the team has been very responsive.”
Change Healthcare has continued leveraging the following CloudHealth capabilities for their AWS infrastructure:
Reserved Instance Management
“This goes back to my earlier point, about cost transparency. We manage a fleet of RIs worth millions; one CloudHealth modification helped save several thousand dollars in a week. Per year, I’d say we’re saving hundreds of thousands.”
CloudHealth provides checks based on benchmarks from the Center for Internet Security (CIS). “The CIS checks are fantastic, because that allows me to see the exact level of control I have over my system, and understand whether we’re in compliance, all in one place. I have plans to put some auto-remediation rules in place, down the line.”
“I automate startup and shutdown of certain instances during off-hours, and have set policies to shut down anything that isn’t tagged. This helps maintain compliance with billing requirements and save time.”
Ultimately, Brent places a premium on having the right controls in place. “Policies for governance and compliance are hugely valuable. Needs evolve and change as the organization grows -- that’s true not just for me, but for anyone in a similar role. What fits on day one might become outdated by day 100. Maintaining flexibility with the right amount of control is crucial to keeping pace with an evolving business and an evolving industry.”
What's next for Change Healthcare?
Change Healthcare has plans to develop a maturity model for each of their clouds, leveraging CloudHealth’s expertise. “We are looking forward to having similar security benchmarking and gap analysis across all clouds, as we are currently leveraging the CIS checks for AWS. From there, we will continue to take advantage of additional cost optimization opportunities and focus on improving efficiency,” said Brent.