There’s a real fear when it comes to deleting data. No matter how obscure or obsolete information may seem, many healthcare organizations view data deletion as a risk they could be deleting research that holds the key to the next major medical breakthrough.
The cost of data storage – is it worth it to keep data “just in case?”
Storing all data can sometimes seem like it’s the right thing to do – just in case – but many times it’s really just unnecessary hoarding.
Did you know that less than 1.5 percent of an organization’s data has any type of value to its patient care, revenue stream, business operations or regulatory value?
Storage might not seem expensive, but as the amount of available and accessible data grows, so does the price for storage, which can range from 50 percent to 200 percent! The average organization – across industries – experiences a data doubling every 19 months. At the industry average cost of $5 million dollars per pedabyte per year to purchase, manage and maintain – it becomes a very expensive strategy that can detract from patient care resources. It can also increase a company’s data center footprint and operational expenses exponentially. Keeping all possible data “just in case” can be incredibly costly.
Start by identifying and prioritizing data
It can seem overwhelming to start prioritizing data for healthcare companies. Many have tens or hundreds of terabytes of data which can be a phenomenal expense to store. Start by looking at the unstructured data to find out what’s really important, what’s unnecessary, what’s duplicate and what’s actually being used.
The more pockets of data your customer has, the more difficult it becomes for the organization as a whole to adopt a single data solution. There are differences in sources of data, field identifiers, abbreviations and calculations. Analysts typically end up with multiple answers for the same question, leading to confusion and a general distrust of all analytical outcomes.
The same problem can occur from a regulatory perspective – more data means more risk. Customers may be finding different data for the same type of query. If there’s not a consistent process to govern analytics, organizations may be reporting inaccurate information.
To be effective, data management needs to be a repeatable, well-governed process. This is a challenge for every organization, not just in the healthcare field. Having the insight on the relative importance of data can help solidify retention policies for more sustainable and functional IT environment.
Information governance doesn’t necessarily mean deleting data
As stated earlier, the thought of deleting data can be very unsettling to healthcare companies. Optimizing data retention policies doesn’t mean deleting all excess data, but rather archiving using a low-cost methodology. It provides a huge cost savings.
Technology solutions can help facilitate and identify data, not just within the Electronic Medical Record (EMR) but within all other data storage structures – from spreadsheets, workgroup files, word documents, emails and more. It’s all pulled together to help determine key insight into the organization’s operations and patient engagement.
It’s all about the ROI
CIOs of large healthcare organizations may have hundreds of capital projects, but they typically only have resources for a few each year. At present, mandated deadlines make EMR implementation, ICD-10 adoption, and Meaningful Use compliance high priorities. Unfortunately, most overworked and understaffed IT departments struggle with the task of upgrading one system at a time and trying to integrate them in a point-to-point process while bringing everything together into a single source. Organizations need a plan of action to begin or continue effective data consolidation and prioritization.
With healthcare organizations struggling to “do more with less,” an information governance solution can save real money on storage – money that can be reinserted back into the budget for additional IT initiatives, security, patient clinical care activities and more.
To ensure that your customers have a holistic data retention and governance strategy, consider collaborating with a partner that specializes in healthcare data consolidation and analysis. With the help of health technology experts, healthcare companies can understand which of their pockets of data are most critical to the organization, which need to be archived for regulatory or legal reasons, and which can be deleted. This will optimize storage solutions and reduce costs. With quality metrics, they should also be able to gain visibility into points of concern at the facility, departmental and provider levels while also improving patient care and outcomes.
Prior to joining VERITAS, Rick served as the Healthcare Practice Manager and National Healthcare Architect for Symantec Corporation. Past positions include Chief Information Security Officer at Texas Children’s Hospital and Executive Manager of Infrastructure for M.D. Anderson Cancer Center in Houston, TX. Rick developed and led the first Shared Services Organization for Hearst and Managed outsourced services for the global IT service provider, WiPro. In addition, he created and managed all client IT services for First Data Corporation.
Rick holds a degree from the University of Texas at Austin and is a certified in both Six Sigma Black Belt and ITIL.
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