Best Practices for Running a Secure Healthcare Data Warehouse

Best Practices for Running a Secure Healthcare Data Warehouse
  • May 20, 2024

Is your information about patients, payers, and providers well-organized and easy to manage? If not, you might need a healthcare data warehouse.

The amount of healthcare data generated in the US is growing by 47% each year. It includes sensitive information, like administrative details, health histories, and patients’ private information. With this surge, it’s no wonder that securing healthcare data has become a priority for software developers in the US.

Warehouses could be the solution to store this data securely and have it ready for analysis. The Vitamin team has an excellent track record with warehouses, and we consider safety a top priority. Join us to dive into the nitty-gritty of running a rock-solid, HIPAA-compliant data warehouse.

Why Warehouses?

the growth of the digital health market

Healthcare data warehouses are structured repositories of usable health information retrieved from multiple sources. They gather information from EHRs, EMRs, ERPs, wearables, lab databases, and population-wide research. While they’re only a part of an integrated data platform, they’re also key to well-informed business decisions.

If your healthcare data warehouse is all over the place with unstructured data, you’re asking for trouble (or at least wasting money). That’s why healthcare folks team up with Vitamin Software. We turn chaotic data into a well-organized warehouse, guaranteeing your apps and systems run smoothly.

Secure healthcare data management using warehouses is the way to the future. It upholds compliance while enabling you to harness data and take your operations to the next level, no matter your role in the ecosystem.

How Warehouses Support Providers, Payers, and Patients

Warehouses house everything from medical histories to treatment plans, allowing providers to make informed decisions at the point of care. In turn, this improves patient outcomes and satisfaction.

Payers, including insurance companies and the federal government, rely on data warehouses to streamline operations and improve efficiency. By centralizing and organizing claims, warehouses help payers identify patterns, detect fraud, and manage risk. This lets them deliver better services, control costs, and mitigate losses.

We come to the final and ultimate healthcare beneficiary — the patient. Through portals and health apps, individuals can access their records, lab results, and treatment plans. It's all about proactive care and a strong the patient-provider relationship.

Ultimately, we’d like to highlight the effect of healthcare data warehouses on administration.  After all, improving admin workflows may impact outcomes in ways you might not assume.

The administrative burden in healthcare is notorious, paperwork and bureaucracy consuming valuable time and resources. Healthcare data warehouses help by automating routine administrative tasks and streamlining documentation processes. For instance, by integrating EHRs with warehouse data, providers can automate billing and claims processing. This technology reduces errors and lets staff focus on human connection in medical care.

Security Challenges in Healthcare Data Warehousing

There are several security challenges in healthcare data management using warehouses, including but not limited to:

Encrypt data, back up regularly offline, use security tools to detect threats, and train staff to recognize phishing attempts to prevent ransomware attacks. Have your software updated with the latest security patches — when you work with Vitamin, you receive monthly maintenance to keep everything as secure as possible.

  • Legacy systems. Many healthcare institutions still rely on outdated systems to store historical data, posing security risks. Integrating these systems with modern warehouses can expose vulnerabilities due to incompatible security features.
  • Data breaches. Hacking and internal leaks affect millions of patients and cost millions of dollars. E-health data is a prime target, especially on personal devices accessed by staff members. Attackers tend to exploit weaknesses in network servers with brute force.

Note: For more detail on data warehouse security and privacy in healthcare, there’s an excellent article from ScienceDirect.

4 Strategic Approaches to Secure Healthcare Data Warehouses

Vitamin Software's secure data warehousing strategies

1. Building Data Security Into Software

Safeguarding PHI is non-negotiable for healthcare organizations, no matter your niche. We’re not just discussing a few fences; you need a fortress around your data. It must be present from day one, built into your project development plan. That way, you test your defenses on synthetic data before adding real people’s information into the mix.

Ask your CISO about the best cybersecurity measures while scoping your software project. They’ll be able to provide you with the specifics required for the software type and scale, along with general best practices.

Vitamin Software has Kirby Winters as our CISO for this very reason. His advice is backed up with over 20 years of experience in high-stakes industries, and his security advice explores all avenues of potential risk. With his assistance, we were able to gain the SOC 2 certification and showcase our commitment to security.

2. Leveling Up With Cloud Infrastructure

Cloud technology is a game-changer for data security. Cloud-based solutions offer unparalleled protection, with advanced threat detection scanning for signs of trouble. They often contain encryption at rest and in transit, identity and access management, and network firewalls. These features strengthen your security posture, minus the cost of developing and upkeeping them in-house.

Plus, the cloud supports your business as it scales. Cloud data warehouses offer enhanced computing capabilities, enabling real-time data querying. This means quicker access to data compared to traditional on-premises warehouses.

3. Abiding By Rules & Regulations

Compliance is the foundation of credibility in the digital health world. Ensure your security strategies meet the requirements set by US regulatory bodies and industry benchmarks like the NIST cybersecurity framework and HITRUST CSF. Build features for generating compliance reports and maintaining documentation — it’s a live-saver down the line. You may also integrate with third-party tools that help automate compliance management tasks.

By adhering to these guidelines, you’ll avoid fines and legal headaches, as well as demonstrate commitment to safeguarding sensitive information. That does wonders for patient trust and your reputation in the healthcare space.

4. Building a Security-Savvy Team

In terms of data security, your team is your first line of defense. That’s why you should invest in employee training and awareness programs. We’re not talking about a one-time seminar but about a culture of security built from the ground up.

Have your cybersecurity department keep its finger on the pulse of the latest laws and threats. Everybody should consult with them before launching a new initiative.

Arm your team with the knowledge and skills to recognize cyber threats and protect their devices from phishing and brute force attacks. That way, they’ll become an asset instead of a liability. And remember — it’s not only engineers who need to know the rules of security, but everybody from the C-suites to the sales department.

Securely Harnessing Healthcare Data with Vitamin Software

The Vitamin team has hands-on experience with data warehouses — that’s why we vouch for them. Notably, we played a role in helping Troy Medicare securely harness its healthcare data.

Troy Medicare operates within the highly regulated environment of the healthcare industry. As an HMO Medicare Advantage Plan, it’s subject to various regulatory requirements, including the medical loss ratio. The company sought to improve its data capabilities while abiding by these regulations, and Vitamin had a solution.

Troy Medicare data warehouse by Vitamin Software

Recognizing the importance of robust security, we used our AWS expertise to design and deploy a secure healthcare data warehouse. AWS architecting guidelines for HIPAA security and compliance ensure Troy’s data infrastructure meets the highest security standards. At the same time, its staff can access and analyze data through user-friendly dashboards.

Learn more about the technological components of this solution in our case study.

Improving Healthcare With Data: Key Takeaways

Operating a secure healthcare data warehouse takes effort, but it’s worth the trouble. Follow our best practices to optimize security and adhere to regulations, and you’ll see your company skyrocket into data-driven success.

Would you like to build or improve your healthcare data management solution? Schedule a consultation with one of our experienced Business Analysts to determine the best technology for your organization. We can share advice or step in to help.

Vitamin Software

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