Healthcare organizations across the United States have been feeling the impact of the data surge since the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act mandated healthcare organizations move to electronic healthcare records (EHRs) in 2009. But that was just the beginning. Consider the volume of digital information from technologies like mobile apps, wearables and telemedicine, and the fact that more than 90% of the world’s data sets were created in the past two years alone. Add to that the proliferation of applications outside the EHR – from hospital email to billing to employee scheduling – all producing their own data, adding to the complexity. Healthcare providers are in search of solutions that let them cost-effectively store and manage the growing mountain of data, and access the information contained within to drive better patient care.
Reducing Complexity and Cost
According to Joseph Hobbs, former hospital CIO and Epic Alliance Manger at NetApp, “Most hospitals support between 300 and 500 applications on top of an EHR system, whether they are used on the business or clinical side.” The critical clinical data resides alongside enterprise application data, and sorting through the right strategy for storing, managing and effectively using data is a constant challenge. As Joseph says, “We work with customers every day to help them evaluate data storage environments and make strategic decisions about which data belongs where. We have more options than ever before, and healthcare systems can use a hybrid approach, with different data onsite, in an offsite facility or in a secure cloud environment.”
IT departments are looking for flexibility, simplicity and cost-efficiency, but not at the expense of security or performance. Joseph says, “We try to take some of the guess work out of data management.” NetApp solutions are validated by all the key healthcare applications, answering the question of reliability and performance. For simplicity, the platform operates on a single management layer, regardless of workload type. “To my knowledge, NetApp’s ONTAP is the only operating system that can manage an all-flash data center under one operating system. As organizations increasingly face pressure to consolidate and streamline IT efficiencies with slashed budgets, we are here to help manage different operating systems and technologies, leveraging built-in tools like workflow automation to automate storage management tasks that no other company provides today.”
Transforming Information to Insights
When managed correctly, data from EHRs can be put to work improving care. Initiatives in data analytics, population health management and patient engagement have their foundation in the clinical data collected in medical records. Kurt Fanning, MEDITECH Alliance Manager at NetApp notes, “EHRs allow for cradle to grave data consolidating all the patients’ protected health information (PHI). On top of EHRs, many providers also use imaging systems, spreadsheets, reports, dashboards and visualization capabilities to track and analyze patient information. Used together, this information fuels preventive strategies by identifying patients due for screenings and immunizations, and flagging readings which are out of the norm. This analysis allows earlier intervention, ultimately leading to better clinical outcomes.”
Perhaps more importantly, healthcare data is “creating next-level solutions to improve patient care,” Joseph says. “The data healthcare organizations are now receiving provides a 360-degree view. The more we know about a patient, the better the care we’re able to deliver, like what you’re seeing in personalized or precision medical care for cancer.” Joseph also notes the impact patent data is having on a hospital’s operational efficiency. “The most expensive place to take care of patients is inside the hospital. Healthcare providers are looking at ways to reduce re-admissions and the overall amount of time spent in the hospital, and the answers to how to achieve that begins with the data,” he concludes.
Interested in learning more about how NetApp can help your organization with healthcare data management? Find out how more here.