Today’s healthcare companies are getting serious about big data. Far from a simple collection of records, big data healthcare is changing the way these providers approach their IT strategy. Only 40 percent of healthcare organizations had a defined data strategy in 2015, but that number increased to 70 percent by 2018, and 89 percent of them are already investing in big data analytics to deliver better patient health outcomes.
As these companies rethink their healthcare data management strategy, many of them would do well to partner with third-party data centers. With their unparalleled connectivity and networking options, these facilities have the flexibility and resources that healthcare providers need to get the most out of their big data assets.
The healthcare industry generates huge amounts of data from a variety of sources. Some of this is structured, and often found in digitized patient records. The primary characteristic of structured data is that it exists in a clearly defined format, often in a database that presents information in easily searchable fields. While storage is always a consideration, this data is relatively easy to manage and analyze.
Unstructured data, however, presents an entirely different problem. This data could come from anywhere and can take any form. Raw test data from equipment, images, documents, emails, and video files are all forms of unstructured data. Since it includes virtually every form of digital record and correspondence, this data tends to be bulky and difficult to manage. Not all of it may be useful, but compliance regulations make it difficult to simply delete things out of hand.
Data centers can provide the storage resources healthcare providers need to manage this data effectively. Rather than building or expanding expensive on-premises facilities, these providers can use third-party data centers to house their data and instead focus their resources on developing innovative ways of utilizing that data to deliver better health outcomes.
Storing huge amounts of healthcare data is one thing; analyzing it to identify actionable insights and meaningful trends is quite another. Sophisticated analytics powered by machine learning can help healthcare providers look at patient data in new ways in order to develop groundbreaking products and services that address specific patient needs. However, the computing resources needed to power these programs can be expensive and difficult to set up in a completely private network, forcing many companies to turn to cloud computing analytics platforms instead of building their own solutions.
With their unparalleled connectivity options, carrier-neutral data centers offer healthcare providers a variety of ways to make use of their data. The flexibility of hybrid cloud and multi-cloud deployments also allow companies to build customized network solutions that provide access to cloud computing analytics services while maintaining the security and control of private networks, which is always a major concern for healthcare providers.
Edge computing architecture and Internet of Things devices will play a major role in the growth of healthcare data in the coming years. From wearable devices that track a patient’s vitals to portable records devices that allow medical professionals to extend care into underserved regions, there are a number of exciting use cases for IoT edge devices. Coupled with edge data centers, these devices will allow healthcare providers to gather more data than ever before and connect previously isolated patients to the health resources and services they so desperately need.
Data centers will be vital to forging these connections. Smaller edge data centers located in emerging markets will help healthcare providers to manage data more efficiently. Rather than having to transmit all data back to centralized, hyperscale facilities where most analytics processing takes place, they can deliver rapid results and cut down significantly on latency. This is crucial in the healthcare space, where poor connectivity and high latency for IoT edge devices could have a negative impact on health outcomes.
Protecting the confidentiality of patient health data perhaps the most important consideration for healthcare IT professionals. With data passing between so many different platforms and storage locations, it’s critical that the proper security protocols are in place to keep that data from falling into the wrong hands. Failure to comply with the legal standards laid out by HIPAA/HITECH regulations, which apply to all forms of patient healthcare information, can lead to hefty government fines and patient endangerment.
A data center that can provide the certificates and attestations of compliance with HIPAA/HITECH regulations is an ideal partner for companies looking to unlock the potential of big data healthcare while still protecting their patients. Rather than investing in building an on-premises data solution that a prosperous company will likely outgrow in a few years, turning to a colocation data center allows healthcare providers to maximize their IT investment while still keeping the door open to scaling operations and services in the future. While these companies should always keep compliance considerations top of mind in everything they do, having a compliant data center partner at their side allows them to do so much more when it comes to managing their big data healthcare needs.
As healthcare providers continue to expand their big data operations, it’s more important than ever for them to find effective strategies for capitalizing on the potential of that data. By partnering with colocation data centers, they can gain access to the innovative services they need to draw beneficial insights from healthcare data management and deliver improved health outcomes to patients.