Joe Forgione - SEPATON

Archives for: April 2012

04/19/12

Data is BIG in Healthcare

Permalink 03:19:45 pm, Categories: Notes  

Throughout history the healthcare value chain has been driven by a combination of several key classes of assets: healthcare practitioners (doctors, nurses), delivery vehicles (hospitals, clinics), healthcare products (from pharmaceuticals to CAT scans and MRI equipment). And of course, driving the economic engine of healthcare are the payers, such as privately-funded insurers and government (state and federal) entities.

While each of these entities has used data in many forms to deliver their part of the healthcare value chain, the data itself has not necessarily been managed as an asset itself. Well, all of that is dramatically changing before our eyes and the change will continue to accelerate over the next several years. We will soon see the data behind healthcare rise from a secondary part of the healthcare value chain, to a place of supremacy as perhaps the most important asset in the system.

At the same time as the value of data is increasing, the volume of data is rising at incredible rates that surpasses most other industries. Just one aspect of healthcare data, the historical medical record for an individual patient, can contain hundreds of GBytes (and even TBs or more) of data as they include not only information on medications and clinical notes but large files such as MRIs and X-rays.

What does this mean to healthcare providers and others in the healthcare ecosystem? As is the case with any asset, healthcare data has to be protected, secured, and analyzed, to deliver higher quality service to patients, economic gain to the top line (revenue), and bottom line cost savings. If it is treated as an asset, then, at a minimum, healthcare data must be protected, secured, and encrypted to ensure privacy; replicated for rapid recovery; and linked to other systems in the value chain.

But beyond that, healthcare data as an asset can be analyzed and used to delivery higher quality care (and as appropriate, drive greater profits for providers). This is what healthcare big data is all about and it will begin to explode over the next few years. With all that data, providers can tap into its hidden value by analyzing and providing information on linkages between drugs and outcomes, identifying trends and patterns in healthcare delivery, and using the data in ways that clinicians could have only imagined.

Today, the healthcare industry must begin to think strategically about how to manage and protect these big and valuable data assets. As a necessary first step, participants in the healthcare ecosystem must employ best practices in key areas such as data protection and they must employ solutions that can scale and keep up with the data volume demands over the next several years. Additionally, to capture the inherent value in the data, they must begin to plan for analyzing this “big data”. By doing so today’s participants in healthcare will become tomorrow’s leaders in transforming the delivery of cost-effective healthcare services.