When you think about organizations that are responsible for managing massive volumes of critical data, which ones come to mind? Many people’s initial response is “a hospital”, due to the way patient care has been revolutionized by technology and the multitude of data sets this technology creates.
Being treated for an illness or seeing a physician for a routine assessment used to involve a few questions and a physical examination, all tracked in a folder of hardcopy records. Now, these processes are digital-data-generating events, involving imaging machines, monitoring devices, and – yes – smart phones that are all connected to the IT network. Hospital CIO offices have moved from the basement to the executive floor, and technology strategy is now fully aligned with clinical strategy.
In a 2017 study by the New England Journal of Medicine, 95% of health care IT executives identified clinical data as the most important data type in their organization.
The good news is that the availability of all this data has resulted in faster and more accurate diagnoses and more effective treatments. Simply put, technology has made for better human health, but it’s also created a challenge for hospital CIOs. How do they store and protect an always-expanding data bank, deliver the data to clinicians on-demand, and meet regulatory requirements? Further, how do they accomplish these objectives economically?
A different approach to health care data management is necessary. No longer can data remain captive in proprietary, department-level infrastructure silos, but rather, it must be easily accessible at all clinical touch points of a patient’s journey. The solution lies in building an enterprise-wide Clinical Data Repository that holds all DICOM and non-DICOM data (ie, “unstructured” data), and integrates with primary EHR systems to facilitate efficient and high-quality patient care.
The tools for building such a repository are Vendor Neutral Archive (VNA) software and Scale-Out Storage, which will be detailed in part 2 of this series: Prescribing a Data Management Plan for the 2020 Hospital.