Solving healthcare’s Big Data conundrum

By Cloudera

How Cloudera’s big data and machine learning solutions can revolutionise public healthcare systems

A man visits the doctor and complains that someone graffitied his house. “That’s terrible, but why did you come to see me?,” the doctor replies. “I don’t understand the handwriting - so I thought it might have been you?”

Due to advances in technology, this joke about doctors’ poor handwriting is already becoming irrelevant. Everything is now digitised and clear to read. But this creates a new problem - unclear data stored in multiple systems on different software means finding and analysing the information you need can be hard.

This is where Cloudera comes in. They are experts at pooling data together to understand and interpret it. This creates new opportunities - from genomic medicine to AI prescriptions, where data can accelerate and deliver new healthcare outcomes. GovInsider spoke with data experts at Cloudera to find out more.

Major problems digitalisation has brought to healthcare

Rows of filing cabinets in hospitals have been replaced with rows of servers, now that almost all of the data is being generated online. The first problem with the digitisation of healthcare is the vast amount of data that is being created by everything from doctors writing notes to information from bedside sensors. This electronic medical record information doesn’t always fit neatly into rows and columns, it could equally be log data, test results, images or video.

The second problem is that all the data collected needs to be analysed for it to make sense. This requires strong processing and computational power that most existing hardware or hospitals do not possess, says Wing Leong Ho, Cloudera’s Technical Lead for ASEAN.

Similarly, for processes such as machine learning and predictive analytics, much of the data needs to be ingested, stored and processed in order to discover patterns and predict future health outcomes, he adds. Many times, this has to be done in real-time for it to be effective, requiring large processing capabilities. These systems have to be scalable and elastic to allow for future data sources.

Finally, information, such as a patient's medical history or new innovations in medical research, are sensitive and highly confidential, and therefore needs to be kept secure. Hackers will attempt to exploit the need for healthcare providers to access information in real-time. There have even been recent examples of ransomware infecting the systems, locking down the data until the ransom demands are met. Public health systems will also need to secure sensitive research data and supply chain information.

Looking to the clouds for solutions

Hybrid cloud based platforms can help pull this vast amount of data together and make sense of it. “The information tends to be spread across multiple hospitals and health clinics, often providing valuable insights on a particular patient,” says Remus Lim, Managing Director of Cloudera ASEAN and India. These different healthcare institutions may also have information stored on-premise, or in a public or private cloud from different vendors.

“What makes Cloudera unique is that we work with all the major public cloud vendors, and provide a private cloud option also,” he adds. This ensures that healthcare providers will not have to worry about changing their existing cloud infrastructure to enable this cross-platform functionality.

Two major benefits of the Cloudera system are the ability to implement governance models and use cloud native processing and computation with open source technology. “The primary benefit of open source technology is the speed of innovation, which outpaces any proprietary solution. The advances in machine learning and analytics could not be possible without the collaboration that defines open source,” says Ho.

These cloud systems are also essential for research and development within the healthcare industry. Using Cloudera’s Enterprise Data Cloud, data can be analysed in real-time as it is being logged. Researchers developing new breakthroughs in medicine can use the unlimited computational power that is offered by the cloud, which older systems cannot handle.

Finally, using the power of machine learning and advanced analytics, Cloudera’s systems can help predict, detect and prevent a cybersecurity breach or attack. This is also critical for shared data, whether it resides on-premise, in the cloud, across multiple clouds or a hybrid environment, to make sure that only authorised parties have access to the information that they need and prevent leaks of sensitive information.

The flexibility and processing power that is offered by enterprise cloud systems is unparalleled in today’s digital age. With healthcare now being the top priority for all countries, being able to log, process and analyse data at lightning speed is going to be imperative.