Having a comprehensive data strategy is paramount in the healthcare sector. Data can be both a blessing and a curse for healthcare organizations, depending on how well they manage their data. On one hand, data is the key to unlocking personalized medicine, research breakthroughs, and effective population health management. On the other hand, data can be a major source of risk. Poor data security can compromise sensitive patient information, erode confidence in healthcare institutions, and lead to poor care decisions.

To unlock the value of data and mitigate risk, IT leaders must have a robust data strategy that accounts for the following areas:

  • Data governance and compliance
  • Data integration and interoperability
  • Data analytics and insights
  • Data security and disaster recovery

Read on for a more in-depth look at how to approach each of these areas. We cover how the AWS cloud, in particular, sets healthcare teams up for success when it comes to their data strategy.

Data Governance and Compliance in Healthcare

Establishing strong data governance policies is essential in healthcare. Data governance refers to how organizations manage who has control over what data and to what degree. Data governance is all about minimizing both malicious and accidental changes to data. The best practice today is to follow the principle of least privilege, which aims to give users only the level of data access they need and no more.

In the healthcare sector, maintaining tightly controlled governance policies is core to having a robust data strategy. Healthcare organizations also have the added challenge of ensuring compliance with regulations like HIPAA that are designed to protect individuals’ sensitive information. Together, promoting sound data governance and compliance is challenging without proper tooling.

Fortunately, AWS has many solutions for data governance and compliance. Tools like AWS Control Tower and AWS Organizations make it easy to set, automate, and manage scalable governance policies from a single location. AWS also has services like AWS CloudTrail for auditing AWS API usage, which can indicate tampering with governance or compliance policies, and AWS Config for staying on top of configurations for AWS resources. Ultimately, what healthcare organizations need is clear visibility into data governance and compliance practices, as well as simple tools for implementing the best possible setup. AWS delivers on this.

Data Integration and Interoperability

Many healthcare organizations struggle today with data silos and systems that don’t integrate well. Between Electronic Health Records (EHRs), lab systems, wearable devices, and more, there are many potential sources of information that healthcare leaders have to consider. When data sources don’t integrate, analysts can’t see the full picture and help providers or executives make strong clinical decisions. Healthcare data teams need tools that can unify data from diverse sources, while still leaving room for nuanced analysis and data cuts.

Again, AWS has the answers here. The platform offers tools like AWS Glue for advanced ETL, AWS Lake Formation for setting up secure data lakes quickly, and Amazon Kinesis for ingesting streaming data at scale. These are the types of tools needed to build end-to-end data ecosystems that are efficient and secure, regardless of data velocity or volume. Healthcare organizations have to consider their integration and interoperability going forward, especially as healthcare becomes increasingly decentralized.

Data Analytics and Insights

Perhaps the biggest area of opportunity for healthcare organizations today is in leveraging data analytics to generate insights related to patient care, operational efficiency, and research. With modern AI/ML capabilities, advanced analytical techniques for forecasting outcomes, personalizing treatments, and improving healthcare delivery are more accessible than ever.

AWS empowers healthcare organizations to process, analyze, and visualize their data in numerous ways. This flexibility helps reduce complexity and speeds up time-to-insight, which is important in healthcare where minutes can be the difference between life and death. Amazon Athena is one of AWS’ most powerful analytics services that allows users to analyze and interact with their data directly in S3 buckets. On the data warehousing and big data processing fronts, AWS has Amazon EMR and Amazon Redshift, respectively. Amazon QuickSight is the go-to solution for building intuitive dashboards and visualizations from advanced analyses. Having an understanding of these analytics tools and more is how healthcare organizations extract value from data rather than build up data coffers with information they’ll never use.

Data Security and Disaster Recovery

As use cases for data in healthcare expand, so too must data security and disaster recovery strategies. Data teams have to keep healthcare data safe from all types of breaches and cyber threats. And when unexpected disasters strike, being able to recover quickly from reliable backups is crucial for ensuring data availability and continuity of care.

AWS has no shortage of security or disaster recovery solutions. AWS IAM is central to almost any AWS cloud environment, and tools like Amazon GuardDuty and Amazon Inspector help IT teams keep up with unusual activity or vulnerabilities across their architectures. What’s more, AWS has built its physical infrastructure with layers of redundancy. Healthcare organizations can build on this foundation with automated backups by making smart architecture decisions that keep services online when disasters inevitably strike.

Build the Ideal Data Strategy with ClearScale

As an AWS Premier Tier Services partner with the AWS Healthcare competency, we’ve seen and solved the biggest data challenges that healthcare leaders are facing today. Our cloud architects and engineers have earned over 100 AWS certifications, and we know how to design efficient cloud architectures that can ingest, store, process, and analyze complex data at scale.

If this blog post was overwhelming or eye-opening in any way, that’s understandable. AWS has so many options you can incorporate into a robust data strategy. The hard part is knowing what to use and how to fit everything together. That’s where ClearScale comes in.

Check out this page for more examples of how we’ve worked with healthcare organizations on a wide range of projects. When you’re ready, you can also schedule a call with one of our cloud experts to talk through your healthcare data goals.