Home Health Care Getting a Grip on Ballooning Healthcare Data

Getting a Grip on Ballooning Healthcare Data


There are three key defining properties of data growth, known as the three Vs:

  • Volume: The total amount of data being created.
  • Velocity: The rate at which data is being created.
  • Variety: The number of formats data comes in.

All three Vs are increasing exponentially, which is creating major challenges for organizations across the board. The healthcare industry is no exception, and it’s actually at the forefront.

The state of data

Famed former Google and Alphabet CEO and executive chairman Eric Schmidt once said, “There were 5 exabytes of information created between the dawn of civilization through 2003, but that much information is now created every two days, and the pace is increasing.”

That was in 2010. It’s now 2024 and that increasing pace has resulted in us now creating an estimated 463 exabytes of data every day.

If we were to update Schmidt’s observation, it would go something like this: There were 5 exabytes of information created between the dawn of civilization through 2003, but that much information is now created roughly every 14 minutes, and the pace is increasing.

Moreover, that data is coming from an unprecedented number of sources and in more formats than ever. Consider the massive increase in video and audio conferencing that came about during the Covid-led work from home revolution. What were once in-person meetings now generate gigabytes of video and audio recordings for each online meeting.

In summary, we and our machines are generating an almost unfathomable amount of all kinds of data faster than ever.

Data in the healthcare industry

Healthcare is not immune. In fact, it’s leading the way. Estimates suggest that 30% of the world’s data is being generated by the healthcare industry, and healthcare’s compound annual growth rate of data surpasses the media and entertainment, financial services and even manufacturing industries.

The increase in virtual healthcare over the past several years is an obvious source of a lot of new data, but it doesn’t end there. Everything is being digitized, even in-person patient visits are on the verge of being digitized with increased talk of providers wearing body cameras during appointments, similar to those worn by police officers during traffic violation stops.

That’s to say nothing of electronic health records, clinical and administrative data, wearables, connected healthcare devices, medical tracker mobile apps and research.

Challenges of ballooning healthcare data

The benefits of all this data are undeniable—more informed decisions, better diagnoses, enhanced operational efficiency, improved patient satisfaction—but it also creates significant challenges:

  • Cost – Every bit of data stored costs money, either in hardware costs or cloud service provider (CSP) fees. And in most cases, both. Today’s healthcare organizations are typically best served by hybrid multi-cloud environments, where some applications and data are hosted with public CSPs and some remain on-premises. However, data suggests organizations often end up overspending on cloud services by up to 70% without getting the value expected out of it. Data protection and management solutions not built for hybrid multi-cloud infrastructures are a part of that.
  • Complexity – With the rise in hybrid multi-cloud computing, a healthcare provider’s data is now spread across an immensely complex data estate with dozens of workloads in multiple public cloud environments and even more in an onsite data center, all likely with disparate management tools.
  • Security – As complexity increases, so, too, does the number of potential vulnerabilities in a healthcare organization’s attack surface, creating greater risk of data breaches from threats such as ransomware. Not only that, but recovering from an attack becomes more difficult.
  • Compliance – Similarly, as complexity increases, so, too, does the difficulty of making sure proper data privacy guardrails are in place for data spread across hybrid multi-cloud infrastructures, increasing the likelihood of regulatory compliance violations and subsequent penalties.

Addressing these challenges head-on

While these challenges are significant, they’re not insurmountable.

To overcome them, first, healthcare organizations should consolidate their data protection and management. Having end-to-end visibility into and control of their entire data estate—from all of their public cloud service providers to their on-premises data center—through a single pane of glass is key to reducing the cost and complexity of hybrid multi-cloud environments.

However, the reality is that most of today’s data protection and management technologies are not ideally suited to operate in these environments. Instead, implement cloud-optimized, at-scale data management that applies web-scale technologies to deliver more cost-effective, efficient and secure data protection and management from the edge to core to clouds.

Second, automate data protection and management. It’s already difficult for IT teams to keep up with data protection and management needs in today’s hybrid multi-cloud environments, and the challenge is only going to get bigger as the amount of data healthcare organizations generate continues to increase, ransomware attacks and other threats to data integrity multiply and data privacy regulations become stricter.

The key is AI-driven technology that can fully autonomously self-provision, self-optimize and self-heal data protection and management services for the vast amounts of data in the hybrid multi-cloud environments healthcare organizations rely on.

In conclusion

The healthcare data explosion shows no sign of slowing. You can get a grip on ballooning healthcare data and the challenges it creates with the help of data protection and management consolidation and automation.

Photo: siraanamwong, Getty Images

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