(US & Canada) VIDEO | Understanding the Data Language Is Critical Across the Board — Akron Children’s Hospital Director of Analytics

Ty Sonagere, Director of Analytics, Akron Children’s Hospital speaks about becoming a data-fluent organization, enterprise data strategy, the focus on advanced analytics, having a hybrid enterprise set up, addressing database challenges, and the ways to increase data literacy to bring about change.

Ty Sonagere, Director of Analytics, Akron Children’s Hospital, speaks with Mike Woods, VP-Sales at Denodo, in a video interview about becoming a data-fluent organization, enterprise data strategy, the focus on advanced analytics, having a hybrid enterprise set up, addressing database challenges, and the ways to increase data literacy to bring about change.

Akron Children's Hospital is a pediatric acute care hospital in Northeast Ohio that provides care to infants, children, adolescents, young adults, and even some older adults.

Sonagere is focused on growing out the data and analytics program at the hospital and the subset of it is in the data governance program and advanced analytics. He adds that the organization has hired him to mature the practice to become a data-fluent organization.

Delving into the enterprise data strategy, Sonagere discusses the three promises kept by the organization:

  1. Treating every child as one’s own

  2. Treat others as they like to be treated

  3. Turn no child away for any reason

When asked about Epic Systems, Sonagere affirms using it, although he maintains that data is also used outside of the Epic environment. Using Epic to drive great data strategy is a massive piece of the puzzle, he says.

Adding, Sonagere says that the organization is moving out of the reporting phase and getting more ingrained with advanced analytics and data sciences conversations. To get ahead with these conversations, organizations must get the foundational pieces right, he notes.

Sonagere insists on having a good understanding of data quality, what the data means, and how to utilize the data for the models. Also, he expresses the sense of fulfillment that comes from being able to help with data whether it is from an operational perspective or supporting the clinicians.

Highlighting the warehouse aspect, Sonagere shares that the organization has had an on-prem data warehouse historically. However, it has begun working with different cloud platforms over the last three years.

The organizational environment has not moved to the cloud yet and some of it will be driven by Epic’s roadmap, says Sonagere. He affirms that the mix of having an on-prem data warehouse and multiple reporting and dashboarding tools including Epic’s suite of tools, makes the organizational set-up as hybrid or multi-cloud.

Commenting on the growing cloud usage, Sonagere says that companies are understanding how to best utilize the cloud. In this scenario, it is best not to put everything in the cloud, he adds.

Organizations must understand what is best for the customers and evaluate those every day.  The learning curve with the cloud is ongoing and Akron’s Children is looking where it fits in the map.

When asked about addressing database challenges, Sonagere states that using a data lake is oftentimes a great solution for that. He maintains that the data lake can be used as a place for data discovery.

Additionally, Sonagere says that the current roadmap of the organization is based on a one-by-one approach based on the current needs, be it a data mark or curating existing data sets.

Moving from traditional reporting to the dynamic setting is the most daunting task for a data professional, he says. Sharing the organizational strategy, he mentions building and implementing “data wiki,” a data catalog of lineage, definitions, and reporting inventory.

This helps in building data literacy within the organization which, in turn, leads to dynamic change, says Sonagere. He also mentions building a tool called “cover my metadata” and addresses it as one of his crown jewels.

Elaborating further, Sonagere states that phase one of the strategy is having a tool that makes data fluency, literacy, and governance real. The second part is about having processes up to date, although it is impossible to govern everything, he asserts.

Therefore, the focus must be on the critical data elements. In conclusion, Sonagere stresses the need to train people on finding data and the process of change. He insists that it is the constant retelling of the story of where to go and understanding the data language equally, across the board is critical.

CDO magazine appreciates Ty Sonagere for sharing his data stories and insights with our global community.

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