According to IDC, the volume of healthcare data will grow to 2,314 exabytes by 2020. Healthcare data is growing more rapidly than ever before. Although big data has the potential to improve patient outcomes, operational efficiency, and overall population health, it also presents distinct challenges for healthcare organizations. CIOs will need to leverage big data to deliver measurable results, as well as figure out how to manage, secure, and store the influx of new information.
To ensure your organization’s big data initiatives are successful and secure, here are three ways healthcare CIOs can prepare for big data:
1. Invest in data discovery and visualization analytics technologies. Healthcare data is now being generated from a variety of sources — including electronic health records (EHRs), data-intensive medical images, and personal fitness applications. Organizations need to invest in analytics and advanced business intelligence technologies in order to make sense of the data and deliver measurable results, without getting buried in information.
2. Gain control over Shadow IT. Shadow IT recently cost New York-Presbyterian Hospital and Columbia University Medical Center $4.8 million after a physician connected a personally owned server to the network and inadvertently exposed 6,800 patients’ electronic protected health information (ePHI) online.
The proliferation of systems, applications, and devices beyond IT’s control, also known as Shadow IT, presents a substantial challenge for CIOs. In addition to making the organization more vulnerable to a security breach, Shadow IT creates data silos that interfere with the outcomes of big data analytics. To gain control over Shadow IT, healthcare CIOs will need to prioritize high-risk software and services. They should also establish usage guidelines, offer IT-approved alternatives, and restrict access to third-party applications.
3. Prioritize security and compliance. According to IDC, 93 percent of all health data needs strong protection, but only 57 percent is satisfactorily protected today.
It is critical that healthcare CIOs prioritize security and compliance to ensure that the organization’s current data as well as the influx of new data is protected. In order to solve for this, organizations are advised to implement a data classification policy, monitor access to big data resources, and leverage encryption while enabling real-time access.