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Protecting patient privacy becomes simple with Cloud Data Sense

three doctors looking at the notes from the diary

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Dr. Nikhil Joshi

In this blog post, I'll explain the importance of NetApp® Cloud Data Sense (CDS) for FlexPod® healthcare customers. CDS is a data management service for NetApp BlueXP™, a unified control plane for simplifying the hybrid, multicloud experience.

CDS: A valuable utility for healthcare

Cloud Data Sense, a data governance service of BlueXP, is a toolkit based on artificial intelligence and natural language processing. It can collect, analyze, and create actionable classifications of the data. I'm a medical doctor, and I appreciate CDS as a great utility for the healthcare sector. As in all industries, data is one of the healthcare industry's most precious assets. The healthcare sector is especially targeted by threats to data privacy and security because it’s lucrative for the bad actors who misuse protected information. Patients can also suffer if their protected health information (PHI) is revealed to their insurance providers without the patient’s consent. According to a study by IBM, it's more expensive to mitigate data breaches for the healthcare industry compared to other industries. The frequency and invasiveness of privacy threats increase every year. A report from Accenture warns that cyberattacks on U.S. health systems could cost a total of $305 billion between 2021 and 2026. Loss of privacy causes delays in care, impacts patients’ trust in hospitals, and affects patients’ quality of life.

Protecting patients' privacy

In the United States, the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPPA) and the Health Information Technology for Economic and Clinical Health Act (HITECH Act)) prescribe significant civil and criminal penalties to healthcare providers and their business associates for intentional or accidental exposure of patients’ privacy. Many research and actuarial institutions use de-identified or anonymized health information to comply with privacy laws. When healthcare providers need to share health information with those entities, they need to first remove some or all of the private information or identifiers of the patients. Additionally, an Uptime Institute survey reveals that healthcare data centers find it difficult to retain IT staff. Therefore, they benefit from any solution that makes it easy to sift through the ever-increasing protected health information to classify and protect it.

FlexPod is the converged infrastructure solution from NetApp and Cisco. It's the ideal platform for healthcare workload needs. Hundreds of FlexPod customers have deployed healthcare use cases such as Electronic Health Records (EHR) and medical imaging workloads such as Picture Archiving and Communication System (PACS) on FlexPod.

FlexPod customers routinely need to protect patient privacy while migrating or sharing their healthcare workload data. This means that Cloud Data Sense is becoming indispensable to FlexPod healthcare customers. CDS is designed to work seamlessly across on-premises and multicloud environments. It scans and profiles file storage, object storage, and databases and collects metadata information about data, such as type, size, time attributes, ownership, and user/group permissions. It then analyzes the information and identifies identifiers such as email, credit card number, IBAN, national IDs, and IP address, and private information such as passwords, ethnicity references, health information, and religious beliefs. It can also classify information into categories such as HR, legal, or finance, or according to sensitivity levels such as standard, personal, sensitive, or restricted.

Intuitive reports and dashboards

CDS includes out-of-the-box intuitive reports and dashboards for decision makers as well as information about the lists of files and database entries that contain private information. It also enables custom-defining the reports to derive further insights. The reports can be filtered and sorted, viewed in a structured or unstructured format, or downloaded for offline analysis.

CDS includes built-in policies for sending alerts, labeling, or removing private or duplicate information. It also allows users to define custom policies and custom tags for labeling the information. In a large team, the entire workflow can be distributed across a team by identifying owners for follow-up actions.

Overall, NetApp Cloud Data Sense greatly improves the efficiency and productivity of any data-driven healthcare IT infrastructure. Therefore, I feel confident that FlexPod customers in the healthcare industry will find this tool super useful.

Learn more about CDS.

Dr. Nikhil Joshi

Dr. Nikhil Joshi is MBBS (degree for physicians in India) and M Tech in Biomedical engineering from Indian Institute of Technology, Bombay, India. Prior to joining NetApp, Nikhil has worked for solution management and development of multiple healthcare applications for over a decade, and observed how healthcare products and the underlying IT infrastructure can influence lives of physicians, clinicians, and non-clinical staff as well as their ability to deliver care to patients. Nikhil is a senior product manager for FlexPod at NetApp, responsible for the FlexPod business for the enterprise applications and healthcare verticals, and for the security and sustainability use cases.

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