(US & Canada) VIDEO | Don't Do Data for the Sake of Data — Akron Children’s Hospital Director of Analytics

Ty Sonagere, Director of Analytics at Akron Children’s Hospital, speaks with Mike Woods, VP - Sales at Denodo, in a video interview about organizational data users, data architecture, data democratization and the role of security and compliance, data challenges in the healthcare sector, and key takeaways to build enterprise data strategy.

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.

Speaking about the data users in Akron, Sonagere explains how intrinsic data is, starting from the enterprise analytics team to the technical team. The enterprise analytics team has clinical analysts who use clinical data to help providers and nurses.

Further, the enterprise team also has operational analysts who leverage data for uses like understanding the reason behind appointment cancellations and level-up scheduling, says Sonagere. On top of that, the hospital has embedded analysts in business units as well. He affirms that anyone working in the hospital is a data user and the data governance team acts as the subject matter expert.

Moving forward with data strategy, Sonagere mentions “data fabric as an architecture” is not a current need for Akron as it does not match the  hospital’s three core promises —

  • "To treat every child as we would our own

  • To treat others as they would like to be treated

  • To turn no child away for any reason"

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However, he loves the idea of integrating pipelines and cloud environments through automated systems and wants the organization to get there in the future.

Delving deeper, Sonagere shares his data organization’s approach to handling data — “Don't do data for the sake of data.” He believes that it must be done because it is the right thing to do based on the promises.

Next, he discusses the role of security and compliance in taking data to people. Explaining further, Sonagere takes up the concept of data democratization which implies data access to more people, raising multiple concerns around security, compliance, data quality, and governance.

The key issues arising from the concerns can be addressed with proper training on how and when to use the data and where to store it, he says. In continuation, Sonagere asserts that having robust access controls followed by an understanding of data governance is critical to enable proper data usage.

According to him, encryption and tokenization are the key measures that can be taken to protect the integrity of the data accessed by many. Sonagere also refers to data classification which can be done at column, table, or database level, and states that Akron uses data wiki for classification.

Shedding light on the challenges, he affirms that the healthcare space has a long way to go when it comes to data, and it is critical to do it the right way. Sonagere opines that the biggest challenges include understanding the roadmap, keeping up with the technology, comprehending patients’ perspectives, and data privacy.

Sharing takeaways for building an enterprise data strategy, he states that organizations must create and manage data while keeping in mind the customers. Sonagere maintains that it is imperative to understand business objectives and meet those needs with data, alongside having robust security and compliance.

Secondly, he advises organizations to be flexible and not go after chasing the latest technology. Sonagere asserts that organizations must be willing to change when required based on the roadmap.

In conclusion, he states that building a data strategy demands curiosity and willingness to learn. Sonagere stresses that learning a new technology may help develop new insights to drive the data strategy but an organization need not gear the data strategy towards that technology.

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

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