Feb 21 2023
Data Center

How Modernizing Data Storage Leads to Better Data Access in Healthcare

As healthcare data storage grows, experts at Dell Technologies say the future of data storage will make data accessible and actionable, leading to better insights and patient outcomes.

The healthcare industry is flooded with data. For decades, through changes in regulatory guideline and advances in technology, healthcare organizations have struggled to manage patient, clinical and billing data safely. Organizations are now sifting through large amounts of existing data, but experts say that there’s more to come.

“There’s been a proliferation of systems that acquire more and more data, whereas 25 years ago, there might have been a handful of systems,” says Michael Giannopoulos, healthcare and life sciences CISO and CTO for the Americas and federal healthcare director of global alliances for Dell Technologies.

“Today, you have a hundred systems generating data,” Giannopoulos says. “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.”

DISCOVER: How Dell Technologies enables healthcare organizations to transform data storage.

Healthcare Data Continues to Multiply

About 30 percent of the world’s data is generated by healthcare — more than any other industry,  according to RBC Capital Markets. Data silos are persistent industrywide as both legacy and new data continue to pile up in often antiquated systems, Giannopoulos says.

“We are creating more silos, with larger pools of data within those silos,” he adds. “It’s the same whether it’s in the U.S., the U.K. or any place that has electronic medical records and advanced clinical systems.”

The amount of data produced by clinical systems, billing and patient care has increased exponentially in the past decade. By 2025, healthcare data will increase by 6 percent — faster than manufacturing, entertainment and financial industries, according to RBC.

The COVID-19 pandemic accelerated the reliance on technology, and virtual care rapidly became more accessible to patients, making safe and practical data storage even more important, Giannopoulos says.

The amount of data collected has allowed clinicians to identify new patient concerns, including the specter of long COVID, but there are mountains of data yet to be understood.

Keeping Healthcare Data Results in Silos

“We need to move the data around, and we also need to have more advanced tool sets to be able to sift through that data,” Giannopoulos says. “Because what’s really clear now is that the rate of growth and the complexity of the data are not manageable. It’s just too much.”

Most healthcare organizations default to saving all patient data without giving much thought to how it will be accessed, says Roger Burnett, healthcare field director at Dell Technologies.

“Because the long-term value of some of that data is not necessarily understood, deciding to keep it is the default. Hence, we have increased proliferation of data silos,” Burnett says.

[Pull Quote: “What’s really clear now is that the rate of growth and the complexity of the data are not manageable. It’s just too much.” — Michael Giannopoulos, Healthcare and Life Sciences CISO and CTO for the Americas and Federal Healthcare Director of Global Alliances, Dell Technologies

Michael Giannopoulos
What’s really clear now is that the rate of growth and the complexity of the data are not manageable. It’s just too much.”

Michael Giannopoulos Healthcare and Life Sciences CISO and CTO for the Americas and Federal Healthcare Director of Global Alliances, Dell Technologies

Data Fabric as a Solution for Healthcare’s Data Problem

The team at Dell Unstructured Data Storage Solutions works with clients to identify how data can be used across all lines of business and create solutions that make data more usable.

“If anybody tells you that there’s one solution for all of it, that’s not correct,” Giannopoulos says. “What you have are multiple, very good solutions geared to what you’re going to do.”

Giannopoulos says healthcare organizations should consider building a data fabric, which includes several data services that interact to maximize usability.

“Data fabric is a tapestry design that sits on top of those systems. It allows you to gain access to any system through various tools and does not interfere with how that system operates,” Giannopoulos says.

READ MORE: Find out how to solve the healthcare data conundrum.

The Importance of Making Healthcare Data Accessible

At hospitals and care organizations, CIOs should be aligned with clinicians’ needs to find the right data storage tools and solutions, Burnett says, adding that the ability for users to seamlessly retrieve information without knowing all the details about where it’s coming from is a core construct of what Dell Technologies is creating for healthcare organizations.

“The requirements that you have today aren’t the requirements that you’ll need to meet tomorrow. And one of the things that we’ve obviously seen in the healthcare space is data retention,” he says. “There’s governance to keep that data and produce it as needed, but you have to store it in a secure way. You have to protect it; you’re liable for it. But then you also have people who are interested in all the various insights they can get out of it.”

Adaptability will likely be a requirement for data in the future, Burnett says, so understanding how to store data to make it accessible is important to consider now.

“From a data access perspective, it’s important to look into the ability to interrogate data without necessarily having a data scientist background, using low- and no-code approaches,” Burnett says.

Having an evolving data storage strategy will also be key to future data compliance, Giannopoulos says: “You have to account for the fact that all of these tools are changing very rapidly. We’re no longer operating on a two-to-five-year rotation. We’re operating on a six-month rotation at this point.”

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