Medical cooperative improves database performance for healthcare customers and builds a common framework for COVID-19 reporting with Oracle Cloud.
“By moving our databases to Oracle Cloud Infrastructure, we gained 60% faster performance and speed, and that supports our digital transformation. We also expect to cut our total cost of ownership by 30% by reducing the need for IT support hours that we currently waste on solving data overload issues.”
Unimed Porto Alegre (Unimed POA) was founded in 1971 as a joint initiative of 30 physicians and grew to become the largest medical cooperative in the world. The company sells comprehensive medical plans as well as services to families and businesses, with 88% of its customers being companies.
As the company’s number of customers grew, so did its database challenges. Before starting the transition to a unified cloud, the company was working with multiple cloud providers for hosting its databases, but none could fulfill Unimed’s expectations.
First, Unimed POA needed to improve its service delivery capacity—the speed with which customers get access to apps and the database—and eliminate slowdowns resulting from computational workload spikes. These spikes were caused by too many simultaneous database connections or very large data chunks requested by customers running older IT systems. Dealing with this matter traditionally would have involved increasing the computational power of the on-premises infrastructure. But Unimed POA wanted to optimize the service delivery regardless of infrastructure limitations and move to the cloud.
The pandemic posed another challenge, when the Brazilian Healthcare Ministry was concerned with data consistency across institutions that report on infections. Those inconsistencies were becoming more frequent in Brazil as the databases of various hospitals and institutions were not optimally synchronized, regardless of whether they were collaborating with Unimed POA. The lack of order in the data was inefficient and slowed down operations, prompting Unimed POA to look for a way to simplify reporting and achieve transparency for all its customers and the country’s authorities.
In addition, the company’s cloud components were fragmented across multiple cloud hosting providers and servers. One concern was that continuing to host databases on multiple clouds would make communication between databases slow or faulty, unless the cloud hosting could be unified into a single cloud.
Data security was also a growing concern for the organization. Even though it invested regularly in new cybersecurity tools, the cost of administering the environments as well as the infrastructure to meet security requirements was expensive.
Why Unimed POA chose Oracle
Unimed POA was already using multiple Oracle systems and applications for its analytics and database management needs. “For our move to a unified cloud, Oracle was the best choice in terms of performance, especially because of the Oracle applications we were already using,” says CIO Marcio Souza.
The company’s decision to move its servers and databases to Oracle Cloud Infrastructure (OCI) was even more advantageous when Oracle expanded its data centers in Brazil. This assured Unimed POA that speed and reliability would be optimal regardless of the location of customers.
“Oracle gave great technical support in the use of these tools, so while moving them to OCI, we gained a better understanding about using the Oracle tools we already had to make the most of them. The technical support offered by Oracle to model our new cloud environment was invaluable,” says Souza.
After migrating to OCI, Unimed POA significantly improved its availability and optimized its resource allocation for computational workloads. Since there were many customer environments simultaneously connected to Unimed POA’s systems, the availability of data was previously limited by what the company’s on-premises infrastructure workload could handle. With OCI, optimized resource allocation now allows customers to access data faster.
Unimed POA optimized both resource allocation and total cost of ownership with OCI’s pay-per-use subscription. Resource allocation for optimized workloads is automated with the help of AI-powered algorithms, which increase resources during peak workloads and then reduce them to standard levels when the workload spike passes. The move to OCI is giving Unimed POA and its customers a 60% time savings in addition to 30% savings in costs associated with computational power.
During the pandemic, Unimed POA managed to solve the issue of inconsistent disease reporting across Brazil. The company created a COVID-19 reporting framework for the Brazilian Ministry of Health and replicated it for all healthcare institutions, aggregating data and maintaining consistency regardless of the different environments managed under the OCI umbrella. This enabled the Ministry of Health to get a clear overview of the evolution of the pandemic in Brazil.
And thanks to Oracle Cloud and Microsoft Azure Interconnect, the company uses Azure for some specific applications based on Oracle MySQL HeatWave. Communication between the Oracle and Azure clouds is seamless.
After the implementation, speed tests highlighted impressive results. Even when the Unimed POA infrastructure is accessed from remote customer sites, the company was pleasantly surprised by the performance. “It’s very, very fast. Even in the São Paolo region, farther away from our main data centers, we get peaks of at most 6 milliseconds,” says Souza.
Unimed POA also enjoys much improved data security with OCI’s default secure configurations, encryption, automatic detection and remediation, and automatic security patches.