UZ Leuven

Enhancing patient care with powerful genomics in a secure cloud

Google Cloud and Localyse are helping UZ Leuven solve for challenges associated with its genomics pipeline, app development needs, and more.

Faster

Accelerates genomics results to enhance patient care

Focus on what matters

Maximizes value of 200-person IT department serving clinical, educational practitioners

Benefits

Reduces IT costs and strain from genomics pipeline through on-demand infrastructure

Improves infrastructure flexibility to always reach SLAs and streamlines compliance management through regulatory expertise

Enables more expansive use of cloud technologies for clinical purposes

Business

University Hospital of Leuven is one of the largest hospitals in Belgium, with more than 2,000 beds and 10,000 employees. It combines clinical care with advanced medical education to improve patient outcomes on a large scale.

Genomics offers healthcare providers and researchers endless possibilities to improve patient outcomes, while presenting unique IT challenges. Many organizations in the field initially built on-premises infrastructure to handle the genomics’ immense throughput and storage demands but are now moving into the cloud to boost power and reduce costs.

With 2,000 beds and roughly 10,000 employees, University Hospitals Leuven (UZ Leuven) is one of the largest hospitals in Belgium and also serves as a teaching hospital. Several years ago, UZ Leuven had the vision to establish a hyper-performance compute cluster in-house to support clinical genomics activity and research to enhance patient care. With continued, growing demand for genomics insights, the healthcare leader wanted to bring new efficiencies to how it managed this critical information.

UZ Leuven’s lab had grown fivefold in just a few years and was facing more time-sensitive requirements as requests for services increased. The organization’s IT team knew it needed to make a change and turned to Google Cloud and partner Localyse to migrate its genomics infrastructure to a more agile and powerful environment.

“We needed a flexible solution that could adapt to any request, so we began working with Google Cloud and Localyse to migrate our genomics pipeline to the cloud.”

Reinoud Reynders, IT Director, Infrastructure & Operations, UZ Leuven

Identifying the right cloud for migration

Thanks to the positive experience the IT department had with these Google Cloud solutions, especially the interfaces and APIs, UZ Leuven knew where to turn for its genomics pipeline.

“When genomics expanded outside the research field and into clinical routines, our requirements and challenges evolved significantly,” says Reinoud Reynders, IT Director of Infrastructure Operations at UZ Leuven. “We needed to be able to turn around results in five days or less, something that was difficult to do with our previous systems.”

In some situations, the five-day turnaround window had to be condensed to 48 hours, or even eight hours depending on clinician needs. UZ Leuven’s IT department still has to achieve its SLAs even when there is a hiccup in another part of the process, and the SLAs are generally strict.

“We needed a flexible solution that could adapt to any request,” says Reinoud, “so we began working with Google Cloud and Localyse to migrate our genomics pipeline to the cloud.”

UZ Leuven believed that Google Cloud was the best option given stringent regulatory compliance requirements, as well as the technology challenges of dealing with genomics data. Google Cloud provides Reinoud and his team with the batch and high-throughput compute capacity necessary to accelerate calculations along with the security to address GDPR.

To fully migrate in a highly secure, compliant, and efficient manner, UZ Leuven turned to a local partner.

Navigating complex regulatory, technological challenges

“Moving to the cloud is a big step for a hospital given the legal requirements governing patient data in Europe,” says Reinoud. “We wanted to find a company that did not just understand GDPR, but also Belgium’s compliance requirements. Localyse brought the exact skill set we needed to succeed.”

“We wanted to find a company that did not just understand GDPR, but also Belgium’s compliance requirements. Localyse brought the exact skill set we needed to succeed and has facilitated matching our terms and conditions to local regulations.”

Reinoud Reynders, IT Director, Infrastructure & Operations, UZ Leuven

Localyse helped to establish confidence in the decision to migrate the genomics pipeline into the cloud through its guidance for GDPR and legal requirements. The partner provided insight and expertise on available solutions and implementation methods to enable UZ Leuven to further modernize its genomics infrastructure.

UZ Leuven also turned to Localyse for its deep knowledge of Google Cloud solutions and use cases, as the Premier Partner specializes in Google Cloud and Google Maps Platform implementations.

“It’s not unusual for organizations to be concerned about cloud security and privacy, but then after implementation, they realize it’s stronger than their previous approaches. We are happy to help UZ Leuven come to this realization as they confidently migrate their genomics pipeline to Google Cloud.”

Dirk Vereycken, Managing Partner, Localyse

“We’ve been a Google Premier Partner for years. We’re one of the few in Belgium offering end-to-end support, starting with infrastructure and expanding to analytics, AI/ML, and more,” says Roger Sels, Cloud Architect at Localyse. “This has helped us to successfully bring organizations like UZ Leuven into the cloud and maximize the value they realize from technology.”

Localyse also works to educate companies on the reliability and power of cloud solutions. “It’s not unusual for organizations to be concerned about cloud security and privacy, but then after implementation, they realize it’s stronger than their previous approaches,” Dirk Vereycken, Managing Partner, Localyse. “We are happy to help UZ Leuven confidently migrate their genomics pipeline to Google Cloud.”

Genomics at scale and speed

With its genomics pipeline now performing better on Google Cloud infrastructure and solutions, UZ Leuven is considering adopting other technologies to further strengthen performance. This includes a pilot to leverage BigQuery for analytics and data warehousing, as well as Google Kubernetes Engine for workflows within its nexuzhealth app that serves 30 hospitals, and exploration of Anthos.

Reinoud believes healthcare organizations will continue to focus even more on insights and data-driven strategies to improve patient care. Technology clearly plays a key role in accomplishing this.

“We are looking to adopt more powerful Google Cloud solutions to enhance our ecosystem and enable capabilities like predictive analytics for patient care,” says Reinoud. “We’ve had a lot of success with our genomics pipeline in the Google Cloud environment, and with technologies like AI/ML, we can further enhance speed and quality of care moving forward.”

Roger Sels

Cloud Architect
Managing Partner

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