Genetic screening helps countless patients make informed healthcare decisions every year. Yet historically, this critical value has been inaccessible to many people as genetic screening was a labor-intensive and expensive process.
Ten years ago, Counsyl set out to make genetic screening and counseling more accessible to a wider audience. Today, after over one million genetic screens, Counsyl is a clear industry leader in genetic screening and counseling services. One secret has been to automate the genetic screening process.
“From our high tech laboratory with custom robotics and chemistry to our reporting system, we have automated the genetic screening process and built a system that could scale to a much larger group of people,” says Dave Peticolas, IT Director at Counsyl. “Automating our IT infrastructure on the cloud was the next logical step.”
Counsyl made the decision to migrate several of their critical applications to the Amazon Web Services (AWS) cloud. Their goal was to be able to automate provisioning of new infrastructure so that new products could be quickly and easily tested and launched. Rather than waiting months to provision new on-premises infrastructure, they wanted to test and launch new ideas in minutes. They also wanted to reduce their IT footprint and create a more efficient IT operation.
Partnering with HIPAA Cloud Experts
The Counsyl team quickly realized that while their team is very savvy about cloud technology and application development, they needed an expert partner to help them build a fully-automated, HIPAA compliant AWS environment.
“Logicworks is a clear leader in HIPAA compliance on AWS. They integrate automation into every stage of their cloud management and compliance process, creating immediate synergies for our partnership,” says Peticolas. “Logicworks also gave us access to experts at every stage of the cloud journey — from our first call all the way through migration and ongoing management. Other companies have cloud experts, but Logicworks went above and beyond to ensure we had access to the same group of highly trained engineers from Day 1.”
Logicworks began working with Counsyl to document their existing on-premises systems and requirements for their AWS environment. They then architected an AWS solution that meets HIPAA standards for infrastructure security, monitoring, incident management, logging, and documentation. Logicworks has experience building hundreds of AWS cloud systems for healthcare companies and its internal systems and personnel are audited annually for HIPAA and HITRUST, so Counsyl could rely on the fact that all of Logicworks’ processes met HIPAA standards.
“What Logicworks brought to the table was best practices around setting up a really secure database environment, automatic patching of exterior hosts, the consistent and thorough use of security groups, integration with Alert Logic software, and other critical areas of HIPAA compliance on AWS,” says Peticolas. “We are able to retain control of our environment while relying on Logicworks to provide their AWS security expertise so we’re using the right tools and the right configurations.”
Counsyl’s AWS environment is set up in a hub-spoke VPC model, where critical security and management capabilities are centralized and environment tiers are “spokes” off of this central hub. Using a hub-spoke VPC layout provides a separation of concerns, network isolation, and an easy basis for comparison of security groups. Logicworks also set up a PostgreSQL replica from Counsyl’s datacenter to a PostgreSQL server running on Amazon EC2, with replication between the two sites via AWS VPN gateway. Counsyl uses the Logicworks Pulse portal as a single hub to access Alert Logic, cost monitoring, and ticket support systems.
“Running on AWS has resulted in dramatically improved time to market for new software — probably more than 2x faster time to market compared to on-premise,” says Peticolas. “Our team can basically press a button and our automation, AWS’ automation, and Logicworks’ automation make it possible to launch a new HIPAA compliant environment in minutes.”
Innovation and automation have always driven Counsyl’s growth. Counsyl’s decision to leverage AWS and Logicworks means they can maintain their pace of innovation and deliver valuable services to market, where they can immediately impact patient care. “Counsyl has been at the forefront of genetic screening for over a decade. Leveraging AWS and Logicworks help us continue to deliver actionable information to guide critical and timely health decisions for women and their families.”