Emerging technologies and collaborative healthcare workflows add complexity to protecting unstructured data
Technology has transformed healthcare
The shift to digital technologies has had a seismic impact on healthcare. Telemedicine, artificial intelligence (AI)-enabled medical devices, and blockchain electronic health records are just a few examples of how technology has completely reshaped how we interact with health professionals, how data is shared collaboratively among providers, and how decisions are made about treatment plans and health outcomes.
More than 80% of healthcare data is unstructured. This includes medical images, written narratives (clinical notes, problem lists, discharge summaries, radiology reports, etc.).
Unlike structured data, unstructured file sizes are typically large: A single chest X-ray might be 15 megabytes, but a 3D mammogram can be 300 megabytes. And a digital pathology file might be as much as 3 gigabytes, roughly the same size as a full-length, high-def movie.
Unstructured data typically lacks organizational. Without clear labels, metadata, or defined data fields, it can be difficult to classify and even more challenging to identify sensitive data requiring protection.
Comprising a multitude of formats, including Word documents, PDFs, PowerPoint files, images, audio files, and multiple video formats, creating a consistent and effective security strategy can be a challenge.
With unstructured data being generated by a multitude of sources – including social media, emails, documents, images, and videos – the sheer volume and rate of growth requires the ability to easily manage across different storage types and regions, adding to the challenge of identifying and protecting sensitive information, along with maintaining regulatory compliance.
Unstructured data is frequently shared among different stakeholders – including medical professionals, insurers, patients, even artificial intelligence – creating yet more unstructured data – making it difficult to restrict access to sensitive information and prevent data leakage.
Unstructured data is often stored across several locations – from shared drives and mobile devices to cloud storage across multiple regions – making it difficult to keep track of and adequately secure.