Infermedica – a company that supports the healthcare sector
Infermedica is a Polish company that creates AI-based applications supporting self-triage and treatment. Founded in 2012, it currently has over 200 employees from Europe and the United States – doctors, lawyers, IT engineers, data scientists, marketers, or sales specialists.
Infermedica's mission is to provide better access to primary healthcare. We want to prevent the consequences of a shortage of doctors and medical attendants. We strive for it by creating a technology that enables an initial symptom assessment and proposes treatment methods or directs to an appropriate specialist.
The products developed by Infermedica include:
- Symptom Checker – an application that combines doctors’ medical knowledge with the AI diagnostic engine. Based on the symptoms entered by a user, the app suggests a diagnosis (with 93% accuracy) and guides the patient through the next steps or directs them to a specialist;
- Call Center Triage – a software for telemedicine that supports an operator in conducting a comprehensive medical interview, helps to indicate the diagnosis and to manage patients’ treatment path;
- Infermedica API – the system’s functionalities and knowledge base shared via the application programming interface.
Infermedica’s solutions support private and public organisations from the healthcare and insurance industries worldwide – including Polish PZU Zdrowie, the German insurance company Allianz, the Mexican virtual platform Diagnostikare, or the technology giant Microsoft.
The challenge – communication, technical and legal requirements
The company has to comply with regulations regarding the security of medical data storage and processing. Therefore, Infermedica builds its work environment and cloud infrastructure out of components that meet the following requirements:
- GDPR (General Data Protection Regulation), which is in force in European Union countries,
- HIPAA (Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act), valid in the United States,
- or ISO for information security, including ISO/IEC 27001.
The pace of both company and platform development is high. In about 2-3 years, the team has grown from 30 to over 200 employees working in a hybrid model. Infermedica also regularly gains funding; it closed the recent round with over $30 million. That’s why the company needs to keep up a high level of agility and flexibility in organisational culture and technologies. And best if the solutions could provide a good price-performance ratio.
The solution – secure and steady growth in the Google Cloud
Infermedica chose Google Cloud solutions. For communication, file storage or electronic document management, they picked out Google Workspace – a suite of business applications. As for IT infrastructure, they went for Google Cloud Platform.
The choice was driven by the fact that both Google Cloud solutions, in addition to the essential tools, ensure a high level of security and full compliance with regulations for the healthcare industry.
Secure collaboration in the Google Workspace environment
Infermedica has been using Google Workspace business applications from the very beginning. For the first four years, the startup had consisted of five specialists who had used the basic version of the service. Gradually, along with company development and the increasing number of employees, the demand for cloud space and advanced security options had grown as well. This had led the company to a smooth transition to the Business package.
When the international success of the intelligent diagnostic tools forced the company to comply with global information security standards, Infermedica decided to upgrade to Google Workspace Enterprise Plus package. FOTC assisted them in optimising subscription costs.
We upgraded to the highest Google Workspace plan to meet the compliance requirements for medical products that we develop. When we were looking for upgrade offers to Enterprise Plus, FOTC emerged with the best proposal. This is where our cooperation began, and afterwards, we extended it to Google Cloud Platform as well.
Infermedica uses the advanced Google Workspace Enterprise capabilities to prepare safe data processing procedures that don’t compromise the comfort or performance of the hybrid work. Therefore, the use of the service can be broken down into two areas: compliance and security, and collaboration and communication.
Compliance and security
In the eyes of the law, Infermedica is committed to maintaining a proper data residency. Some information in emails to and from clients is treated as medical data, so administrators use the option to select the storage region in the Google Workspace console.
ISO standards for medicine also outline the procedures of electronic document circulation. To keep the order and adhere to the policy of creating files, the company has a strict internal structure of folders in Google Drive. Due to storing the most important files in shared drives, it’s easy to maintain transparency of access and control over users’ permissions.
Members of legal and technical teams keep the certificates up-to-date and constantly apply for new ones. For this reason, they generate a lot of Google Docs files with certificates of compliance with the highest industry standards. The documentation is prepared using specific templates in accordance with the guidelines for versioning and access control.
Collaboration and communication
Google Workspace business applications support Infermedica employees in almost every area of their day-to-day office tasks:
- Gmail is the main communication channel with clients, and internal team meetings are most often conducted via Google Meet.
- For the messaging, they use Slack, which is integrated with Google Drive and Calendar.
- Research and Business Intelligence teams use Google Sheets extensively. They connect the business app with BigQuery (a cloud data warehouse service) to dynamically retrieve data from GCP and analyse it in spreadsheets.
- Sending files from Google Drive to clients is as easy as sharing them inside the domain. The Drive’s marking features and activity log help keep shared files under control.
Development and maintenance of the medical application on the Google Cloud Platform infrastructure
The first technological steps the company had taken on OVH servers. After a few years, IT specialists decided to migrate to a public cloud. Among the three most popular cloud providers – Google, Amazon, and Azure – they chose Google Cloud Platform as a solution that fitted their needs best. During the migration, the Infermedica tech team made changes in the system architecture – switched from old Linux containers to Docker images and a Kubernetes cluster.
Currently, they use the Google Kubernetes Engine, a container orchestration service. In the cluster, apart from the production environment, they also have other environments supporting the process of testing and implementing new features. Changes are being introduced in accordance with CI/CD, using a pipeline created in Cloud Build. All infrastructure is managed through a code using Terraform by HashiCorp service. An Infrastructure as Code streamlines the management of environments, and allows automation and optimisation of deployments.
We wanted to have a managed cluster to ensure the application's performance. We were also keen to use Cloud Storage, Cloud Functions or managed logs. Google offered a range of services that best suited our needs at the time.
Technical and Business Intelligence teams utilise analytical solutions available on Google Cloud Platform. Using BigQuery data warehouse service, they analyse, among others, data from API to enhance the intelligent diagnostic engine. They search for the most common queries and patients’ symptoms, the system’s answers, or territories that have the highest density of diseases. The BI team also uses data on user behaviour to create dashboards in Google Data Studio, analyse the application’s level of accessibility, and make improvements in the UX area. All the data analysed is anonymous – Infermedica has security features and layers in its products that filter user data, making it impossible to link medical information to a specific person.
Infermedica also uses GCP services to automate backups. Dataflow or Pub/Sub combined with Cloud Functions make a copy and then upload it to Cloud Storage bucket and, to be safe, to AWS cloud.
The company, which has almost all its data and applications on Google Cloud Platform, decided to take advantage of a committed use discount (CUD). FOTC supported them during discussions with the cloud service provider. Then the costs were further reduced thanks to an exclusive rebate from the partner.
When we decided to migrate from OVH to GCP, we already had the IT team strong enough that there was no need to use the partner's support. Now we use this support more often, mainly when researching new services. Suppose there is a service we want to know more about because we consider its implementation. FOTC advises us on what is worth using and helps us get acquainted with the functionalities or runs a demo.
The results – higher pace of growth, lower cost of services
Google Cloud services allow the Infermedica team to develop medical products in compliance with all regulations; they also allow them to enter new markets and deepen their activities in those where they are already present.
The cooperation with the partner has translated into cost optimisation and fuller use of Google Cloud Platform services and Google Workspace business applications. Infermedica keeps up the hybrid work model through online collaboration procedures and hires more specialists worldwide – doctors, AI engineers, salespeople, or back-office specialists.
They plan to consolidate all the products to one platform soon. Infermedica’s clients will be able to use individual products as before or buy access to the whole suite.