Delhi-based Dr. Lal PathLabs is a leading diagnostic company working in the healthcare sector in India. When the company launched in 1949, it provided just a few diagnostic services while maintaining a blood bank. Today, Dr. Lal PathLabs operates more than 170 clinical laboratories in India, which offer over 3,500 healthcare-related diagnostic tests. Dr. Lal PathLabs employs more than 4,000 people, 55 percent of whom work in the labs. The company caters to individual patients, corporations, healthcare providers, hospitals, and other clinical laboratories.
By using AWS, we have eliminated downtime – which once reached six to 10 hours per month with our on-premises solution.”Sandeep Singh
Head of Digital, Dr. Lal PathLabs
The diagnostic industry in India is on the rise. In 2015, it saw revenues of Rs 37,700 crore (US$5.8 billion), according to analyst company CRISIL, and that figure is expected to rise to Rs 60,000 crore (US$9.2 billion) by 2020. To capitalize on the anticipated growth, Dr. Lal PathLabs looked to overcome challenges with a business-critical infrastructure that supports the Dr. Lal PathLabs website (www.lalpathlabs.com), where customers can book clinical tests, make payments, and access test results. Hosted on premises, it also supports a downloadable app with the same capabilities as its website. Sandeep Singh, head of digital business and products at Dr. Lal Path Labs, says, “Many customers book tests in the morning, expecting to collect the results on the same day to take to doctor appointments.”
The infrastructure supporting the website suffered six to 10 hours of downtime a month. It was during these periods that customers couldn’t book tests, make payments, or collect results. Even when the infrastructure was available, it could take customers using a 4G network connection four to five minutes to open and download an online PDF with their test results. Singh says, “We had an IT administrator spending a least 10 percent of his time trying to improve the performance of our infrastructure.”
The issues prompted many complaints to the Dr. Lal PathLabs via a customer helpline. Singh says, “We needed to eliminate downtime and improve the speed of our application and database serving the test results.” Singh also wanted to eliminate as much IT waste as possible. For example, the number of API requests to the test-booking application or the test-results application varied greatly during any given day. To meet the peaks in API requests in the early morning and late afternoon, Dr. Lal PathLabs had to overprovision the number of servers in its infrastructure.
Why Amazon Web Services
Singh proposed Amazon Web Services (AWS) as replacement for the organization’s existing on-premises infrastructure. Singh had worked with AWS while working for a startup company in India. “I had a great experience working with AWS. I believe that no other cloud-service provider in India has the range of services offered by AWS,” he says. Singh’s proposal was accepted by other stakeholders at Dr. Lal PathLabs, and he engaged with a local AWS team.
The AWS team recommended Umbrella Infocare, an AWS Partner Network (APN) Advanced Consulting Partner, to help with the migration to AWS. Umbrella Infocare set up the core of the infrastructure, configuring Amazon Elastic Compute Cloud (Amazon EC2) instances for the infrastructure’s applications and databases. Singh and his team handled changes to the application and database code.
The completed infrastructure sits inside an Amazon Virtual Private Cloud (Amazon VPC), with Amazon Route 53 providing the Domain Name System web service. Amazon EC2 instances support both the infrastructure’s applications and the applications’ Microsoft SQL Server databases. Amazon Simple Storage Service (Amazon S3) acts as a repository for all test results, and currently stores about 250 GB of data. Amazon Relational Database Service (Amazon RDS) stores automated backups of the tests results as well as storing data relating to service prices and Dr. Lal PathLabs clinics. Dr. Lal PathLabs also uses Amazon Simple Notification Service (Amazon SNS) to alert customers when their results are ready and Amazon Simple Email Service (Amazon SES) to update customers via email.
Since migrating to the AWS cloud, Dr. Lal PathLabs has eradicated the downtime that its infrastructure suffered each month. Says Singh, “By using AWS, we have eliminated downtime—which once reached six to 10 hours a month with our on-premises solution.” Customers don’t face delays when they attempt to book a test or download test results, because the applications and databases are highly available. And the IT team at Dr. Lal PathLabs now has less maintenance work. Singh says, “Our IT administrator no longer spends 10 percent of his time working on issues with the infrastructure. He has more time to support the IT development team.”
Today, it no longer takes customers four to five minutes to open and download an online PDF with their test results. Instead, it takes just a second to open and download the PDF with a 4G network connection. “Waiting minutes to access results can be frustrating for customers,” says Singh. “Now we can deliver a much better level of service. Our applications and databases run much faster on Amazon EC2 instances, hence customers can open and download results right away.”
Because Dr. Lal Path Labs has migrated its infrastructure to the AWS cloud, it has eliminated IT waste. The IT team simply scales up the number of Amazon EC2 instances to handle peaks in API requests in the early morning and late afternoon, and scales the instances back down when the number of requests falls.
The improvement in IT performance has significantly reduced the number of IT-related calls to the Dr. Lal PathLabs customer helpline. Singh says, “We have seen a 25 percent reduction in the number of complaints to our helpline, and we can attribute this decrease to the improved performance of our website on AWS.”