Modernizing Healthcare Data Storage


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Today's world runs on data, and the healthcare industry is no different. In fact, this industry produces and leverages an exceptionally vast amount of digital output. Storing all that data is a major undertaking. Keep reading to learn about the challenges and trends that are characterizing healthcare data storage today.

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Understanding Healthcare Data

About 30 percent of the world’s data is generated by healthcare—more than any other industry, according to RBC Capital Markets. By 2025, the compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of data for healthcare is expected to reach 36 percent. That’s faster growth than other major areas, like media/entertainment, manufacturing and financial services.

Hospitals, medical practices, health insurance companies, and other healthcare organizations can track and manage data on several levels, including:

  • Individual patients: Patients’ health histories, lab results and billing records must all be carefully maintained and referenced to inform quality care.
  • The organization: Healthcare organizations maintain electronic records related to their finances and human resources and track important metrics like staffing trends and populations served.
  • The industry as a whole: Beyond individual healthcare organizations, the industry as a whole tracks data on medical trends by demographics, typical health outcomes, and much more. Big data is taking on an increasingly significant role in healthcare as it can provide new insights to drive smarter clinical decisions and better health outcomes.

Challenges in Healthcare Data Storage

As the healthcare industry undergoes digital transformation, more and more data is being created and converted to digital formats. As industry expert Michael Giannopoulos points out, “If you walk into any facility, be it an acute care or ambulatory care organization, you will find that there are things buzzing and beeping everywhere. All that data is being harvested and brought somewhere to sit.”

Storing healthcare data can be a challenge due to several notable issues, including:

  • Exceptionally high data volume.
  • Disparate data that is unstructured and siloed in different locations.
  • Regulatory compliance and privacy requirements.
  • The need for uninterrupted access.

Healthcare organizations are seeking out solutions to overcome these challenges and store data in a way that allows them to fully benefit from digitization.

Trends in Modernizing Healthcare Data Storage

How are forward-thinking organizations approaching healthcare data storage? Let’s look at a few trends we’re seeing across the industry.

Cloud and Hybrid Storage Solutions

Many healthcare organizations are leveraging cloud storage solutions to improve scalability, flexibility, remote access and cost-effectiveness. However, private computing solutions offer advantages of their own, so some organizations are embracing hybrid storage solutions that combine on-premises infrastructure with cloud-based storage. This approach can provide a balance of performance, security and scalability. Healthcare organizations can retain sensitive data on-premises for compliance and security reasons while leveraging the cloud for scalable storage, backup and disaster recovery.

Data Lakes and Data Warehouses

To address the issue of data silos, some healthcare organizations are consolidating their data into centralized repositories such as data lakes and data warehouses. While this approach has been around for some time, a 2023 study found that data lakes aren’t yet broadly implemented in the field. Bringing all data together enables advanced analytics, data mining and machine learning applications to derive insights for improving patient care, population health management and operational efficiency.

Object Storage

The industry estimates that about 80 percent of healthcare data is unstructured. Medical images, multimedia files and biosignal data all come in unstructured formats that can make storage a challenge. Object storage architectures are becoming an increasingly popular solution for storing this data. These architectures allow organizations to store large volumes of unstructured data in a way that’s scalable and accessible.

Enhanced Security Measures

The industry is also finding ways to make its healthcare data storage more secure. This is a paramount concern when it comes to compliance with the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA). Strategies like encryption and stronger access controls can keep data protected. You may associate blockchain technology with cryptocurrency, but some healthcare organizations are exploring it for enhancing data security through patient identity management, supply chain traceability and secure health data exchange.

Stay On the Cutting Edge of Healthcare Data Storage

In today's data-driven healthcare landscape, managing the vast volume of digital output presents significant challenges. However, healthcare organizations are embracing innovative solutions to enhance their approach to data storage, leading to improved patient care and operational efficiency.

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