Securely Linking the World’s Health Data in One Cloud-Built Data Warehouse

Author: Todd Crosslin

Market News, Snowflake Technology

In a report titled “An Inflection Point for the Data-Driven Enterprise,” Harvard Business Review Analytic Services (HBR-AS) found that the most significant organizational barriers to achieving a data-driven healthcare evolution include organizational silos, legacy processes, lack of key digital and analytics skills, and resistance to change.

Note: MicroStrategy, Snowflake Computing, and Wipro Limited jointly commissioned the report. Free registration is required to download the report.

Overcoming Resistance to Change

Traditional healthcare information technology (HIT) is another barrier to data-driven healthcare evolution, because it limits the amount of data that healthcare organizations can effectively join and link together. Organizations find it impractical and sometimes impossible to transport substantial amounts of data while maintaining tight security and fully protecting personally identifiable information (PII) and protected health information (PHI).

In addition, the high expense of on-premises HIT solutions is a challenge. Given the report’s finding that organizations are resistant to change, will HIT leaders have the courage to make the leap to the cloud?

HIT in 2019

For HIT in 2019, I foresee an accelerated shift to the public cloud, with a full embrace of longitudinal data sets. Organizations will share longitudinal data not only internally, but also with clients and partners, to meet needed outcomes and performance-based payment models. Legacy reporting mechanisms will be hard-pressed to keep up with the demands of these new models.

Health Level Seven (HL7), Fast Healthcare Interoperability Resources (FHIR), and Substitutable Medical Applications, Reusable Technologies (SMART) on FHIR will continue to evolve and gain momentum as organizations embrace new technologies.

How Snowflake Enables HIT

For compliance with Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) and other regulations, deploying a solution based on a modern architecture is essential.

Snowflake, the data warehouse built for the cloud, addresses security concerns with Tri-Secret Secure (three-key) encryption and fine-grained data access controls for securely and performantly storing customer data. Snowflake automatically splits loaded data into small encrypted micro-partitions and extracts the metadata to enable efficient query processing.

Snowflake encrypts these micro-partitions, stores them in a columnar format, and compresses them. In short, organizations that use Snowflake can focus on the bigger picture because Snowflake’s security is built in.

Through its Secure Data Sharing feature, Snowflake provides a modern capability that enables organizations to share, link, join, and access data without moving, exporting, or even copying any data. In real time, organizations can easily establish data connections between a data provider (the data owner) and data consumers (internal or external data users) to governed, secure, read-only data.

Earlier in this post, I mentioned that traditional HIT limits the amount of healthcare data that organizations can join and link together. The Secure Data Sharing feature solves this problem.

Regarding cloud providers, Snowflake is available on both Amazon Web Services (AWS) and Microsoft Azure. Currently, data sharing is available within one cloud provider and one region. Throughout 2019, Snowflake will be expanding Secure Data Sharing to allow sharing between multiple regions of the same cloud provider. Eventually, availability across multiple cloud providers and regions will play a pivotal role in creating a truly global Data Economy.

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