Medical Databases can be defined simply as a database that contains the data of patients and all other data needed for the smooth running of a healthcare organization such as hospitals, clinics, research facilities etc. There are key points that we should know about medical data storage.

Know and Understand Your Medical Databases


Data can be very nuanced and different and so understanding the data that’s being used in a medical facility is critical to the smooth running of all data related tasks. Data analysts should formulate a data storage and data analysis strategy that answers all the main questions and lets database users know how to access the data, how to store it, the data binding principles, security procedures, regulatory requirements etc.

Unstructured Data

As much as the contrary would be preferred, unstructured data is alive and well and exists within medical databases. Data analysts should have a system in place on how to deal with structured data. There should be rules in place on how to combine different levels of structured data as they are updated into the database. This will ensure that the data analysts do not have to undergo data remodeling every time new unstructured data shows up.


Data Compliance Needs

A medical organization and hospital should understand the data compliance needs. The responsibility of following data compliance should not be left to only data analysts. Everyone in the healthcare organization who has use and access to the medical databases from top management to middle management and even administrative staff should understand the compliance needs and rules of data. The healthcare industry is highly regulated and thus the bar is set very high when it comes to data compliance and data security (more on data security later). For example, if a medical facility chooses to outsource their data management and storage, they must ensure that the company or individual providing the services must be qualified and must possess all the credentials that are required by governing bodies. Failure to follow the compliance rules leads to penalties for the healthcare organization.


Data Retention Policies for Medical Databases

A healthcare organization needs to establish a data retention policy for its medical databases. The data retention policy will help both internal data governance and legal compliance to go on more smoothly. There are some data that can be retained for many years while some need only be stored for a few days. Data archiving and management solution providers are experts on data retention and medical facilities should hire data archiving companies to help them establish a data retention policy or better to fine-tune any existing data retention policies.

A healthcare organization should identify its most important data and prioritize the storage of this data over other less important data. Also, data in the same groups need to be prioritized as well. For example, if an email is classified as top priority data, it might still be further classified as some emails from senior management might be more critical than other emails and so their storage would be prioritized. Data retention priorities should be set so data management resources can be focused on the most essential tasks.

When establishing a data retention policy it is important that the healthcare organization picks a solution that fits their data needs. There is no one size fits all approach and even if a similar organization uses a data retention policy it does not mean the same will work for the next organization. Policy curators need to take into account factors like company culture, location, local rules and regulations, type of organization and size, etc. In addition to this, a data retention policy should also have flexibility in things like choosing where data is stored. For example, some data can be stored in the cloud while some can be stored on a local server. So employees that are more mobile or who work from a different location can be given cloud storage priority so they can access the data from any location and so they can do their jobs effortless while on the go.


Cost of Storage

The real costs of storage start to show up after a data storage system has been used for several years. Hence, a healthcare organization should properly understand its operating cost and future cash flow when choosing a data storage solution to ensure that they can bear the brunt of the future costs when they start to pile up. Thinking ahead saves the healthcare organization a lot of trouble. They need to factor in scalability, technology advancements and upgrades, and other operating costs that arise from maintaining the data storage system such as electricity, maintenance staff, floor space (rent) etc. The organization should Consider the long-run implications of these storage characteristics and purchase the storage that provides the best total cost of ownership. This will over time reduce the chance that long-run costs will far exceed the short-term discounts


Fast Storage

Getting data storage that is known for its speed might cost more, but it will save a healthcare organization lots of money in the long run. A medical database should utilize different data tiers such as having backup storage in the cloud. This will save against accidents like data loss and when the healthcare organization needs to change its applications used or software they won’t need to rebuild from scratch because the data will already be backed up.