According to GlobeNewswire, the global healthcare data storage market is expected to reach $6.12 billion by 2027. However, with the segment booming, healthcare organizations still find it challenging to store and manage vast volumes of health data, which urges them to turn toward innovative healthcare software solutions. At this point, finding the most appropriate solutions in healthcare data storage is something many professionals have in mind.
Considering the insights above, let us explore the notion of healthcare information, determine its significance, and discover different data storage options. To understand whether your company or organization needs on-premise, public cloud, or hybrid cloud data storage approaches, it is vital to look at each option from different perspectives. As a result, the piece offers sufficient evidence to make the best choice for healthcare data storage and management methods.
What is Healthcare Data?
When understanding whether healthcare organizations are concerned with healthcare data, one of the tools is to look at the healthcare analytics market (see Fig. 1).
The number above indicates the market is rising rapidly. Essentially, it means that various tools for handling the rising data volumes and healthcare data storage methods are in great demand, which supports the idea of healthcare organizations taking the relevant information seriously.
However, what is healthcare data? In short, this is any information related to various healthcare conditions, causes of death, and quality of life. Often, healthcare data correlate around different clinical, environmental, behavioral, and socioeconomic metrics. In addition, more and more professionals witness Big data being introduced into healthcare.
Common Types of Healthcare Data
To illustrate what healthcare data is, one should explore its most common types, including:
- Electronic Health Records (EHRs). Healthcare organizations develop EHR platforms to have all kinds of health data in one place. In short, EHRs are digital versions of patient medical data, which includes medical history, health status, and lab test results.
- Health surveys. That entails all the health data collected and analyzed by public health organizations. It is used to make decisions on public health matters.
- Clinical trials data. This type of healthcare data is obtained from patients exposed to specific health-related interventions. It is done to assess different health outcomes.
- Claims data. These are linked to all the billing codes and procedures between healthcare organizations and insurance companies.
- Patient registries. These databases include all the secondary data linked to a particular group of patients sharing similar conditions.
- Picture Archiving and Communication System (PACS). PACS is a type of healthcare data related to medical imaging. Generated by medical imaging devices like MRI and CT, PACS are used to capture, store, and access any medical imaging data of patients.
The types above of healthcare data are vital for tapping into data storage and management in healthcare best options and practices. The digitization of more healthcare organizations needs to secure information properly. All this points out the significance of efficient healthcare data storage and management. Let us explore this question in detail.
Why Does Health Data Management and Storage Matter?
First and foremost, one of the critical factors pointing toward the significance of the phenomenon originates from the direction of the healthcare data storage market (see Fig. 2).
From a general perspective, the numbers show many healthcare organizations reimagine their data storage solutions and look for ways to handle growing volumes of health information. Appealing to software development companies with expertise in healthcare is one of the responses to the issue above.
For instance, if you are looking to develop a mHealth app, you will face the challenge of storing and managing all the health data streaming from the app’s users. At this point, the better you can handle data storage and management, the more value your mHealth product will bring.
What does Healthcare Data Storage bring to the Table?
From a narrower perspective, to determine whether healthcare data storage matters, it is crucial to define the instruments it grants the industry. Thus, there are the following aspects to consider:
- Data growth management. The more healthcare organizations scale, the more significant data volumes they need to manage. Effective data growth management is key to scaling and digitization in such a case. You need scalable data storage options supporting your organization’s future growth.
- Data access control. All the parties involved in improving patient outcomes need proper data access approaches. But how is information used in healthcare? We showed above that it is used in clinical trials and everything linked to patient and public health. As a result, proper healthcare data storage solutions directly influence how the data will be utilized and accessed.
- HIPAA compliance. Following the Healthcare Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA), all patient-related data need to be identified as Protected Health Information (PHI) or electronic Protected Health Information (ePHI). Then, these data need to be appropriately secured and protected.
- Innovation. Having appropriate data storage options is all about driving innovation. With innovative data analytics use cases emerging rapidly, organizations look at cognitive computing and Machine Learning (ML) technologies. These tools process massive data volumes and get insights boosting patient care outcomes. Thus, the more healthcare organizations look at data storage approaches, the more innovation they pursue.
Knowing what healthcare data is and why it matters lets us proceed to the most notable healthcare data storage options. Determining the best method is vital for the phenomenon of meeting the needs of a particular healthcare organization.
On-Premise Data Storage
In a nutshell, on-premise healthcare data storage entails all the information is stored in an on-site data center. In general, such an approach grants total data storage and management control. Currently, the on-premise data storage option works for software and services in the growing data management market (see Fig. 3).
Having all the data stored in one place grants its benefits. However, one should not perceive on-premise data storage as a panacea. Keeping this in mind, to determine whether the on-premise option is the one working best for the particular healthcare organization, it is vital to explore the method’s key benefits and drawbacks.
Harvard Business Review indicates the rising importance of cloud computing in healthcare, significantly correlating the technology to the recent events linked to COVID-19. So, naturally, it drives companies toward cloud-based data storage options. But it does not mean organizations must forget about on-premise data storage. Namely, because it offers the following pros:
- Data control. On-premise storage grants total control of how healthcare organizations store, process, access, and secure data. It is vital when working with PHIs and ePHIs.
- Data security. Having a data center entails that it does not necessarily require a wireless connection. Organizations can retrieve patient data without going through the Internet or the cloud. It makes data much more protected from external breaches. With the rising number of healthcare data breaches, better security is a major advantage that on-premise data storage can offer.
- Uptime. Healthcare organizations build their own data centers to have better Uptime. Hospitals cannot afford their systems to go down when working with patients.
These benefits suggest that on-premise data storage is about control, security, and stability. When working with sensitive patient information, it is vital to all the tools to help secure and protect it from leaking outside the organization.
However, as it always happens, the great benefits on-premise data storage offers comes at a price. So at this point, let us explore the distinct cons of the approach:
- Capital costs. Any aspect of health tech development requires some capital costs. The same is true for on-premise healthcare data storage. Building and maintaining a data center is costly. You need to secure space, get expensive equipment, for instance, networking and servers, and hire professionals who will provide round-the-clock maintenance. Besides, there is always an additional cost of data center downtime.
- Operating costs. After spending money on building a data center, you must have everything it takes to run it properly. It means paying for electricity, cooling, maintenance equipment, upgrades, and a disaster recovery plan. This evidence dictates the cost of building and running a data center can range from $10 million to $25 million.
- Scalability issues. Finally, scaling on-premise data storage is always tricky. You cannot just purchase more cloud storage. To expand your data storage capacity, you need to get more servers, pay for installation, and watch for downtime during upgrading.
The drawbacks, as mentioned earlier, support the idea that an on-premise data storage option comes at a great price. If you want to control your data, secure patient information, and have reliable system infrastructure, be ready to pay a hefty sum.
Public Cloud Data Storage
If the on-premise option is not for you, the next step is to consider using a public cloud for healthcare data storage. More and more companies are looking for software development partners with expertise in cloud computing. This demand is represented by the pace with which the cloud storage market grows (see Fig. 4).
Forbes suggests the post-COVID healthcare segment pursues an increasing reliance on cloud computing due to its effectiveness. More organizations look for ways to integrate cloud technologies into healthcare applications to offer better data analytics and improve the digital patient experience.
Yet, along with cloud computing in app development, the technology finds its application in data storage and management. Public cloud providers like AWS, Microsoft Azure, and Google Cloud Platform are ready to offer healthcare organizations all the data storage solutions they need.
However, to understand whether the public cloud data storage option is the one meeting your needs, let us explore the benefits it brings:
- Low-cost. Getting public cloud data storage is much cheaper than having a data center. Besides, if you need to increase data storage volume, you pay for additional cloud space instead of buying all the costly physical equipment. Finally, you do not need to hire professionals to run or maintain your public cloud data storage. As a result, this option comes with low capital and operating costs.
- Good payment options. Most public cloud providers offer a pay-per-use model. It makes this option cost-effective. It costs about $0.023 per Gigabyte of stored information in the public cloud. Forbes suggests a single patient generates about 80 Megabytes of data annually. At this point, it makes sense to pay for data storage less if a hospital or healthcare organization offers services to thousands of patients.
- Automated scaling features. It monitors your data storage consumption and automatically expands storage when needed. That makes data storage scaling extremely easy and brings data automation to healthcare.
- Easier data access management. With cloud technologies, healthcare professionals have easier access to required data. It makes clinical trials and diagnostics much faster.
At this point, the public cloud is a low-cost and easy-to-scale option. You can grant all parties access through an organization and outside it.
However, as with the on-premise option, public cloud data storage is not a panacea. When choosing it, keep in mind the following cons:
- Data control loss. Storing and managing data in the cloud entails giving up some control. Essentially, it would be up to a public cloud provider to manage, maintain, and secure the entire IT infrastructure.
- Data privacy issues. With lesser control comes a more significant data security risk. Storing data in the cloud can have privacy implications as well. In such a case, HIPAA compliance becomes a must. For instance, if you plan to have information from your product stored in the cloud, HIPAA compliance affects you and your cloud provider. As a result, having more parties involved in data management means a greater chance of potential data breaches.
- Downtime concern. For on-premise healthcare data storage, downtime poses minimal risk. However, several high-profile downtime scenarios recently showed the downside of solely relying on cloud storage. An outage at AWS and an outage at Google Cloud showed how susceptible to failure the public cloud storage system could be.
While the public cloud option has distinct advantages, it comes with data control, security, and downtime concerns. After the outages, many cloud storage providers rechecked their infrastructure’s vulnerability to them. As a result, one can expect new iterations of cloud technology to be less susceptible to outages shortly.
Hybrid Cloud Data Storage
A hybrid cloud takes the advantages of on-premise and public cloud options and puts them together. It aims to solve some crucial healthcare data challenges neither on-premise nor public cloud solutions can tackle. When correctly done, software development companies can use a hybrid cloud to orchestrate the processes between different data storage options healthcare organizations use. Shortly, it is expected to become a major player in the market (see Fig. 5).
Without further ado, let us explore how effectively the hybrid cloud unites on-premise and public cloud solutions and what benefits it brings:
- Data security. A hybrid cloud takes security-related data management best practices on-premise option provides. Healthcare organizations continue to store data in physical servers, thus retaining the total data control and security it brings.
- Scalability. A hybrid cloud inherited an easy scalability option from a public cloud side. When connecting on-premise servers to a public cloud, you get an opportunity to scale cost-effectively. You can use virtual machines and cloud computing resources to expand your infrastructure.
- Data backup and recovery. Hybrid cloud deployments come with disaster data backup and data recovery protocols. These maximize the uptime and ensure you will not lose your data in an emergency. In addition, any data stored on-premise can be duplicated in the cloud.
- Multiple methods. Finally, a hybrid cloud data storage option allows healthcare organizations to choose what type of data they need to store. Besides, the solution grants numerous methods of storing and accessing data.
These benefits put a hybrid cloud solution on the healthcare data storage methods map.
While a hybrid cloud solution is still in its germination, it means one cannot avoid specific challenges. Respectively, one can outline two particular drawbacks the method entails:
- Issues with data portability. Managing data portability between on-premise and public cloud approaches can be challenging when adopting a hybrid cloud method.
- Implementation concerns. You need technical experts to implement a hybrid cloud solution. It means tapping into the option’s full potential, and a third-party managed service provider should be involved.
The drawbacks above show that getting a hybrid cloud data storage solution requires some third-party input. Yet, in most cases, it is worth it.
Choosing the Best Healthcare Data Storage Option
Healthcare data storage comes in different shapes and sizes. Each method has its distinct pros and cons. Your option depends on the type of healthcare software and services you plan to offer. Yet, to choose the best data storage option, you need to consider your priorities and what type of health data your organization will use.
For instance, if you want security above all, then an on-premise solution is your choice. Looking for the easiest scalability, consider public cloud data storage and management. Want to have a balance between cost and scalability? A hybrid cloud is the best option.
All in all, healthcare data storage constantly innovates. Many organizations look for new solutions and technologies that can grant better data security and be cost-effective. At this point, partnering with a software development company you can trust is paramount. After all, the final decision on the preferable data storage solution is up to you.