Envisioning Security and Compliance as the Data-Driven Nucleus of Healthcare and Life Sciences Industries

As data has become a critical resource driving business decisions, so too has it found itself integral to the healthcare industry. While it can uniquely empower health decisions for the better, it requires a delicate balance of actionable data and security and compliance; if that balance isn’t met, the consequences are particularly disastrous for fields like healthcare, which are strictly regulated and dependent on correct information.

Joining together for DBTA’s webinar, “Unlock Your Data's Full Potential: Healthcare & Life Sciences Edition,” experts from Immuta, Snowflake, and Radiant explored modern data security strategies in healthcare and life sciences industries that can maintain rigorous compliance while mitigating risk and driving productivity.

John O'Brien, principal advisor and industry analyst for Radiant Advisors opened the discussion with the top priorities of companies today: ensuring data is appropriately secured and governed consistently throughout the data lifecycle, as well as having a data security strategy that supports a policy-based enterprise approach for data utilized by different users and use cases.

“In general, we’ve gone beyond this generation of big data and having big eyes and are excited with what we can do with it, and we’re really back into, ‘hey, we have to do this responsibly’,” said O’Brien. “The trend in the last few years has moved back towards data management, but more importantly, it has really been moved back into security and governance.”

O’Brien emphasized “security at the beginning,” explaining that at the time data is brought into your architecture, it should be secure in all of its iterations. Being able to access data that users can trust in its compliance—at any time—is fundamental for all industries, but 10x more complex and necessary for healthcare.

Operating from a set of ideological tenets, Radiant observes the following as critical for data security in healthcare and life sciences industries:

  • Adopt intuitive tools that anyone can easily adopt, use, and publish reports from.
  • Optimize analytics lifecycles to increase efficiency.
  • Empower people through self-service data analytics.
  • Set analytics as a strategic priority driven by the executive team.
  • Embrace a data culture that highlights data as driving decision making.

Todd Crosslin, industry principal for healthcare and life sciences at Snowflake, continued the conversation by highlighting the way entities in healthcare and life sciences can optimize their current infrastructure to begin rolling out the aforementioned tenets of data security.

Data silos prevent value realization, Crosslin stated, armed with a few critical statistics: 87% of decision makers want to expand their ability to use external data; healthcare data is estimated to double in size every 73 days; and approximately 80% of healthcare data is unstructured, according to a 2020 report from Forrester.

Crosslin introduced the Snowflake Platform, a single data platform for multiple data workloads, which leverages an intelligent infrastructure, an elastic performance engine, and optimized storage to meet the needs of healthcare and life sciences industries from unstructured data analytics to a 360-degree view of patient data. The platform emphasizes becoming data-driven, as opposed to anecdotally-driven, to rise to the fiscal challenges that the pandemic has only exacerbated for these specific industries.

“What you see with Snowflake as a platform is that it provides simplicity with agility and speed in order to generate the ROI that they [the healthcare and life sciences industries] are looking for,” said Crosslin. “Anecdotal answers are no longer going to be sufficient in this challenging economic environment.”

As a result, organizations need available data that is just as secure and protected internally as it is externally. Snowflake’s live data sharing abilities assist in creating a massively collaborative ecosystem to benefit a variety of healthcare and life sciences organizations, yet at the core of it all, Crosslin explained, you must make sure that that shared data is protected.

Sam Tawfik, head of product marketing at Immuta, tackled the issue of secure scaling in these industries. Immuta is trying to solve a key problem: data policies are a roadblock to secure scaling. When moving to the cloud, an explosion of data sources, compounded with an explosion of data users, results in an explosion of policies that create complex, unmanaged challenges at scale.

The Immuta Data Access Platform was offered by Tawfik as the key solution to this pervasive security issue, enabling discovery of data, secure authoring, orchestration, and privacy, as well as the ability to monitor its innerworkings. Identifying what data is sensitive data within your organization is essential to ensuring scalable compliance, according to Tawfik.

“A data security platform is not just about protecting the data, because if you take a step back, in order to protect data, you must first know what kind of data you’re dealing with,” explained Tawfik. “You need to be able to discover that sensitive data. We need to be able to tag it and have high confidence that this is the data that is considered sensitive—because everything that’s done from that point on depends on that decision.”

Immuta’s platform offers a holistic approach for data security, as honing in on only a singular aspect of security prevents scalability and adaptability in the future.

To learn more about data security and compliance in the healthcare and life sciences industries, you can view an archived version of the webinar here.