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Report: Healthcare Data is Growing Exponentially, Needs Protection

December 4, 2014
by Rajiv Leventhal
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Healthcare is one of the fastest growing segments of the digital universe, growing at 48 percent per year—compared to 40 percent per year for the overall digital universe— according to a new report from the Hopkinton, Mass.-based EMC Corporation.

New healthcare applications and regulatory/compliance will drive data growth, as will higher patient expectations. Data is growing quickly, but the value of data to quality, cost, and outcomes has never been higher, the report found.  

In fact, if all the data in the healthcare digital universe were loaded onto the memory in a stack of tablets, it would be nearly 5,500 miles high, and loaded tablets would fill up 75 percent of a large hospital, the research estimated. And predicting its exponential growth, by 2020, the loaded tablets would fill the same hospital 11.3 times.

The report found that regulatory compliance is a key data growth driver; a patchwork of country and state regulations dictate how long healthcare providers must maintain patient data, and many choose to maintain it indefinitely. To this end, there is a high economic incentive to better manage the security and privacy of data, as providers get charged up to millions of dollars for a single breach.

What’s more, the sheer amount of systems and data outside of IT control can create a “shadow IT” compliance challenge. Some things that IT does not control in an average-sized hospital are: departmental applications or devices purchased without IT involvement or knowledge; 1,000 community physicians with their own smartphones and tablets; and 300,000 patients with their own devices. CIOs options include: do nothing; lock down all devices, including mobile; adopt control over all devices, with exceptions; embrace an enterprise mobile/BYOD data management strategy, according to the report.  As such, too much data is not adequately protected, as 93 percent of the healthcare digital universe needs protection, the report concluded.

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