Stethoscopes, needles, tourniquets, and blood pressure cuffs are what typically come to someone’s mind when thinking of items used to assess, diagnose, and treat patients in a healthcare setting. While these physical tools within a hospital or private practice are important, unstructured data also plays a critical, yet often understated, role in the overall care experience of a patient.
Lab results, transcripts, radiology imagery, and physicians’ notes all fall under the category of unstructured data. In order to make a diagnosis or treatment plan for a patient it is critical that healthcare organizations manage this data properly either on-premises or in the cloud. Doing so allows healthcare professionals to unlock the insights and analysis needed to improve patient care.
Organizing data involves analyzing which storage option is the best for your organization and moving it accordingly. However, this comes with an elevated risk. Any time a healthcare enterprise moves their data there is room for mistakes if the proper precautions are not taken. Human or machine errors or malicious attacks can occur as data is being moved over, affecting the overall integrity of data. This can result in thousands of dollars in compliance fees and extended downtime.
Finding the Right Solution to Manage Healthcare Data
Due to the nature of the sensitive data hospitals generate, choosing the right company and product to undertake the management of unstructured data is pivotal and can be the difference between success or failure in springboarding your organization into this data-driven digital world.
Putting proper protocols in place is key to maintaining data integrity throughout any unstructured data management projects. The key to doing so is partnering with a vendor who has these processes already ingrained into their software.
Here are some qualities to be looking for when evaluating a vendor to manage healthcare unstructured data:
1. Training and support – Without an understanding of how to work the data management software your hospital or private practice is implementing, there is more room for error. Take a look at what your overall data management goals are, and where common mistakes can happen before beginning any project. Look into whether the software you are choosing offers step-by-step training or has a knowledge base to share with your team before beginning. Your team will be glad you did.
2. Up-to-date, accurate software – It is important that healthcare data is protected at the highest level throughout the data management process. After all, you want it to be safe and secure in the long term. Research that the software a vendor is offering has been reviewed and tested for accuracy. You may want to check on the prospective business’ practices to see how often they update their software and if they put their products through a review or automated testing trial period. Does the company release its product updates frequently, through batch iterations, or is a fully new product yet “to be released” since the last update?
3. Quality assurance – Independent quality assurance (IQA) is a feature that can save healthcare organizations money, time, and energy. In the event of a system incompatibility or a bug, IQA can apply a solution to mitigate consequences in real-time. Another positive of IQA is that having this feature at your team’s disposal means you can perform an analysis to see what went wrong and why the bug occurred to accurately reflect any necessary test, process, or architectural changes.
4. Overall data security – When you move your healthcare organization’s data, there will likely be an assortment of types of files that vary in size, composition, and year of creation. This vast array of confidential information, such as patient files and care plans, can be complex as the many different files must be shared and exported between systems. Without the right system or set up in place, the security settings can be lost and create holes in defenses for adversaries to take advantage of. Since all data for hospitals is regulated, these sensitive data management processes could be a target for cybercriminals as they know there are higher stakes in this industry. Do your due diligence to learn about what security infrastructure is in place in the software you choose upfront in order to avoid catastrophe later.
Data Integrity is the Winning Ingredient in the Data Management Process
Enterprises that manage their valuable data assets smartly and securely have the most potential to be a critical step closer to thriving in the competitive market chaos. Those who shortcut the protection of their valuable data assets are at perilous risk of compromising or delaying their company’s potential success. With data integrity at the core of your business, your patients, overall business operations, and future ability to scale will be greatly improved.
About Carl D’Halluin
Carl D’Halluin is the CTO of Datadobi, the global leader in unstructured data management. Carl has been building cloud and storage software for 20 years. He has made notable contributions on protecting and manipulating unstructured data, building highly scalable and secure storage systems, and enabling metadata-driven insights and automation.