The Truven Health Blog

The latest healthcare topics from a trusted, proven, and unbiased source.


Elements of a Big Data Strategy

Monday, January 6, 2014
A recent article in Healthcare Informatics discussed how the University of California Irvine Medical Center (UCI Medical Center) is applying big data technologies to reduce avoidable readmissions, enable new research projects, and track patient vital statistics in real time. At Truven Health, we see these technologies as enablers to help our customers realize their goals for improving care. The technology itself is one aspect of a multi-faceted program to realize value from your data assets. These elements include data governance, data operations, infrastructure, data management and applications, and analytics to engage your community.

A well defined data governance program will allow your organization to realize value from the myriad and potentially disconnected data sets you are collecting. Master data management, defined business rules and metadata standards all enable downstream analytics. Data quality is paramount in any sophisticated data intelligence program. It is critical to establish a foundation of trust in the data.

The nuts and bolts of data operations may seem mundane, but when you’re responsible for petabytes of data, especially HIPAA-regulated healthcare data, you can’t afford to ignore the basics. Security and privacy requirements, systems management, data access, government regulations, encryption and where necessary, data obfuscation and de-identification, are all daily operational necessities that will need attention.

A variety of infrastructure options are available in the market today. When choosing one, take into consideration the level of control you need, where your strengths lie, and where your focus needs to be. Options include public cloud offerings, “build your own” environments from the ground up, and hybrid models, such as managed service environments that provide full featured platform capabilities.

Data management is at the heart of any big data strategy. Hadoop is the “big data” software technology and has become an enterprise-grade solution for data processing and enabling advanced analytics to be applied to even the largest data assets. There are a number of available distributions of this open-source software platform Truven Health has implemented the distribution from Hortonworks. Truven Health Unify™, built on Hadoop, brings clinical and administrative data together, makes it uniform, and then applies advanced analytical methodologies.

Software solutions then enable your organization to realize value from this integrated and analytically sound data asset. User-centric solutions, such as data visualization and workflow applications, engage your community of practitioners, providers, payers, and patients to change behavior and adopt new practices. By establishing a data asset as a trustworthy foundation, objective views of performance and practices can be developed and a data-driven agenda can be pursued.

Brian O’Sullivan
VP, Technology Strategy and Enterprise Architecture