Application Development

Fast, Secure Data: The New Currency in Healthcare

Technology has transformed every industry to another level, and at the heart of it all is data. Data is the new currency in healthcare, and healthcare providers and insurers must leverage fast, secure data to drive innovation and stay competitive in today’s app-driven world.

Sharon Bell

Jul 06, 2021

Historically, the healthcare industry has lagged behind in technology adoption due mostly to rigid data privacy laws governing PHI and electronic health records. But with rising competition and new, disruptive market entrants coupled with emerging tech and digitally savvy consumers, innovation is becoming a necessity.

Today, every company is a data company and that’s certainly true for healthcare organizations as they experience explosive growth in medical data. Savvy healthcare CIOs are embracing digital transformation as a core business goal to deliver more value through data-driven insights for personalized patient experiences, faster adoption of technologies, including artificial intelligence and machine learning, and new ways of providing services such as value-based care models.

Healthcare providers and insurers are realizing that becoming more digital will allow them to capture growth opportunities in new markets, keep up with evolving customer behaviors and respond to new competitive pressures. But how can companies confidently build and deliver new products and services while safeguarding their most sensitive data?

Empowering Healthier Living Through Data

Healthcare executives recognize that data is the heart of their digital transformation initiatives. But 75 percent of healthcare organizations see data management as the biggest barrier to digital transformation, according to a survey by Damo Consulting, an Illinois-based healthcare growth advisory firm.

With massive volumes of member/patient data, it can be an extremely challenging and lengthy task to manage and access large volumes of data quickly across their enterprise. In addition, privacy laws, including HIPAA, add an additional layer of complexity when it comes to migrating data to the cloud.

Whether an organization is trying to build an application for customers or drive operational efficiency, every employee in a data company is using data in some fashion - which means fast provisioning of data is critical to success.

Take Presbyterian Healthcare Services as an example. Presbyterian is a locally-owned and operated, not-for-profit organization known for their extensive experience in integrating healthcare financing and delivery. With eight hospitals, a medical group and a health insurance plan, Presbyterian was looking to quickly update core software, including Cognizant’s TriZetto® FACETS®, and bring application-driven insurance products to market faster.

However, they were restrained by several factors:

  • Application release schedules were constrained by the time required to provision QA environments.

  • Test environment build outs consumed 94 percent of each testing cycle versus only 6 percent for testing.

  • Lastly, rapidly increasing storage requirements drove up costs, where development and test environments consumed 35 TB across 23 environments with 33 percent data growth every day.

To solve for these challenges, Presbyterian decided to embark on a DevOps transformation journey aimed at helping its development teams build better software. They implemented a data for DevOps platform that allowed teams to access a dataset for any environment, quickly, via API. The built-in data virtualization capabilities empowered software development teams to speed up refresh times to minutes. Security was integrated into their innovation workflow, with PHI and PII data is irreversibly masked across every DevOps environment.

As a result, the company slashed environment build times from 10 hours to 10 minutes, while consolidating its data footprint by 80 percent. Presbyterian was able to deliver business-critical offerings faster while reducing IT costs.

Move Fast and Don’t Break Things

Securing valuable data should never be an afterthought, especially for healthcare providers and insurers. As the amount of member/patient data grows so do the concerns over the privacy of sensitive information.

Without proper safeguards in place, the risk of data breaches dramatically increases as well as potential impact on an organization’s brand, reputation, and overall bottom line.

Speed is just as important as being responsible for the data you carry within the enterprise. That’s why it becomes critical for healthcare companies to enforce the right security measures that allow data to be shared, freely and securely, across the organization and with the healthcare partner ecosystem—whether it be for data analysis or quality assurance for software development.

Automated data masking provides a proactive approach to discovering where sensitive patient and member data resides, setting masking rules, then anonymizing the data whenever that data is accessed or shared across the enterprise or with partners. Healthcare providers and insurers need to innovate quickly and continuously, but not at the expense of neglecting data privacy and security.

Final Thoughts

The U.S. health industry shows the greatest potential for disruption, and the most successful healthcare companies will be the ones powered by fast, secure data. Findings from a joint research project by MGI and McKinsey found the US healthcare sector could create more than $300 billion in value every year if they were to use data creatively and effectively to drive innovation. Failing to innovate can be the equivalent of leaving billions of dollars on the table while taking the risk of not securing sensitive data forces your customers to lose trust in a way you can’t recover.

Download the "Real Results: Enabling Digital Transformation and Innovation for Healthcare" e-book to learn about how eight healthcare brands have benefited from data transformation, enabling secure data management while protecting PII and PHI information.