Why one healthcare system says it’s in ‘data heaven’


Modern business runs on data. It must be collected, processed, stored and, ultimately, controlled. Collecting data without purpose is an expensive hobby. Throwing data around without security is an invitation for the forces of evil to steal a company’s data assets. Those in the healthcare industry know this all too well.

Kaiser Permanente, an end-to-end healthcare system, is looking to make the most of its data, including effectively governing it, with the help of IBM Corp.

“For us, the real opportunity is to be able to figure out all the data we have and the best uses for it,” said Fawad Butt (pictured, right), chief data governance officer at Kaiser Permanente, spoke about the need for data governance.

Butt and Bruce Tyler (pictured, left), partner, global big data analytics leader at IBM, spoke to Jeff Frick (@JeffFrick) and Peter Burris (@plburris), co-hosts of theCUBE, SiliconANGLE’s mobile live-streaming studio, during the IBM CDO Strategy Summit conference in San Francisco. (Disclosure below.)

The conversation centered on the need for data governance, especially in the healthcare field.

Use case opportunity, regulatory necessity

“It’s data heaven, all the way,” said Butt, referring to his role at Kaiser Permanente. The amount of data the company gathers through insurance, hospitals, and other business avenues gives them a real opportunity to find important information and discover the best uses for it, he explained.

However, all that data has to be managed and protected. This is still something of a work in progress, Butt stated. Many people want to take their medical records with them when they move between doctors, and the industry has not settled on an efficient, secure way to do that.

Such massive amounts of data also pose the problem that it can’t all be considered at once. It must be broken down into domains and sections. Proper data governance means deciding which domains best advance the company’s business objectives, he explained.

One new initiative at Kaiser is the addition of a toolset that helps executives make decisions on investments in the longer term.

While the data is vital, pulling value from that data is the real goal, according to Tyler. He pointed out that IBM has helped many customers through the digital transformation, and it is the use cases, not the technology itself, that prove the value.

“What we’re seeing now is looking at things from a use-case driven approach, and starting small,” Tyler said. Once a company can see the value in a given use case, they can then scale out around their current infrastructure, he added.

Watch the complete video interview below, and be sure to check out more of SiliconANGLE’s and theCUBE’s coverage of the IBM Chief Data Officer Strategy Summit. (*Disclosure: IBM and other companies sponsor some IBM CDO Strategy Summit segments on SiliconANGLE Media’s theCUBE. Neither IBM nor other sponsors have editorial control over content on theCUBE or SiliconANGLE.)

Photo: SiliconANGLE