Skip to content

How Centralized Data Improves the Health Care Industry


How Centralized Data Improves the Health Care Industry

Centralized data systems allow information to exist inside one mainframe but remain accessible from numerous points. The content gets collected, stored and managed in one place, but centralization does not impact the ability of an authorized user to access the content from anywhere in the world.

Here's a look at centralized data in health care and why this approach is so advantageous for the industry. 

Centralized, Cloud-Hosted Data Enables Proactive Action

Data centralization is more secure than some older data management options. Why? It can help shut down distributed denial of service (DDoS) attacks. By keeping data centralized and hosted in the cloud, IT professionals get instant notifications of DDoS issues or problems like data breaches. 

A notification then becomes a new, production-level security policy that gets put into place to mitigate the threat. It's an automated process, which means it's an extremely proactive approach. 

Centralized Data Provides a Health Care Facility With More Direction

As a health care facility gets larger and has a presence in more states, it could encounter more obstacles due to the growing decentralization of data. That was the issue challenging Sanford Health, a $4.5 billion health system operating in six states. Starting in 2015, the organization launched a plan to centralize data and analytics separately from its IT infrastructure. 

Two years later, the transformation concluded. Before reaching that point, though, the health system struggled with generating reports based on the data it possessed. 

Doug Nowak, senior executive director of enterprise data and analytics at Sanford Health, clarified, "Every day we seemed to be chasing different goals without a set direction." Nowak also mentioned the organization found they had multiple answers to the same question, depending on the origin of the data. He explained this approach to creating a data-driven organization meant having an infrastructure that gave actionable answers to questions.

Care Coordination Is More Straightforward With Centralized Data

When many people think about centralized data in health care, they envision electronic health records (EHR). Statistics show 87% of physicians think it is "very" or "extremely" important to have access to medical records when they need them. An EHR system demonstrates how centralized data allows keeping a lot of information in one place. 

Then, if a patient moves between different health systems, all the providers who treat them can see the same, up-to-date information. Moreover, an EHR platform enables securely sharing health information with other medical professionals, helping those people weigh in with different opinions. Since an EHR system shows all the tests and other interventions a patient received, it eliminates duplicate efforts that could delay the care they genuinely need. 

Centralized Data in Health Care Can Increase Efficiency

An expanding health care system that uses decentralized data can put a strain on the IT professionals who help those facilities run. At Fortis Healthcare Limited, there were more than 40 facilities, each self-managing their IT. After the brand decided to centralize its IT support structure, all of its more than 7,000 employees can get help from a single IT portal. 

Moreover, an IT dashboard displays information about all known IT issues. This setup allows staff members to prioritize which ones to tackle first. Before the health system deployed this kind of centralization, people who needed IT help had to call individual numbers depending on their locations. Now that the IT team gets data from all the facilities under the Fortis umbrella, hospital workers only need to dial one number for assistance.

Centralizing Data Promotes Better Governance

In addition to the example above of how the centralization of data can make it more secure by allowing IT workers to respond more promptly and through automated systems, it can also facilitate improved options for overseeing the data and minimizing security shortcomings. Data governance becomes more complicated when each branch of a health care system has a different way of handling its data. 

At St. Joseph's Health, there is a Northern California board responsible for health system governance, and it communicates with hospital-level entities in the surrounding area. This arrangement aims to reduce costs and increase quality by taking consistent action. 

Other health systems are starting to adopt the regional board model of centralizing data, including Kaiser Permanente and Connecticut's Hartford HealthCare. These kinds of board centralization decisions can also positively affect financial performance, such as if the board becomes more high-functioning after the change. 

Dedicated Efforts Required

Centralized data in health care is not a cure-all. But, the examples covered here show why many medical facilities decide it's preferable over a decentralized structure. A team effort is necessary to achieve meaningful payoffs, and buy-in from leadership helps, too.