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Why ETL Solutions Are Revolutionizing the Health Care Industry?

ETL is a key part of the clinical data life cycle that has revolutionized how medical professionals store and utilize patient records. Data is health care’s most valuable commodity. It’s how new discoveries, advancements, and breakthroughs in medical treatment are made. 

Here’s the science behind ETL solutions and why they’re so important in health care today.

The Three Components of ETL

ETL is a three-part data functioning process consisting of extraction, transformation, and loading. Its primary purpose is to integrate information from multiple sources into one centralized location while preserving its integrity and upholding patient privacy. Each component plays an equally important role:

  • Extract: The process of identifying important data from a raw unstructured source or structured database, validating the contents, and exporting it to a neutral staging location
  • Transform: The process of converting the extracted data into the required format for another database, either by directly modifying it in lookup tables or combining it with other data sets
  • Load: The process of uploading the modified data to its new home

Imagine a testing lab needs to send the results of a recent study to a nearby healthcare facility. The first step would be to extract the data from the lab’s database to a new staging area. Once it arrives, technicians prepare it for its new home. They ensure it meets all the new database’s formatting requirements and verifies and organizes the information to improve its quality.

Technicians will then send the optimized data through full or incremental loading to its final destination. The healthcare provider can now use the newly acquired data with its electronic health records, medical records, and other software. Thanks to ETL, it has full assurance that the information is accurate and compatible with its devices.

Benefits of ETL in Health Care

Healthcare infrastructure has many disconnected parts, including hospitals, labs, individual practices, and insurance agencies. Patients can also now record their own data thanks to wearable devices. The industry is going through an information overload.

An estimated 36% of the world’s data belongs to the healthcare industry alone. It needs a reliable information processing solution that provides continuity across all medical institutions. ETL has many such benefits:

  • Precision: ETL meets the healthcare industry’s high standards for accuracy, ensuring the data doesn’t undergo harmful or unnecessary alterations when transferred to a new location.
  • Speed: ETL eliminates much of the time-consuming coding and processing of traditional data processing methods. It’s a straightforward integration platform with an easily repeatable life cycle.
  • Accessibility: The ability to access data in one location is essential for health care’s many departments. ER surgeons and physical therapists might not have the same jobs, but they often need to cite the same information. 
  • Flexibility: Healthcare facilities can add new databases and devices with confidence that ETL can adjust to the new environment.
  • Security: ETL software is difficult for cybercriminals to corrupt, thanks to a strict design and testing process. Data privacy is crucial for the healthcare industry’s integrity and patient well-being.

When combined with capable data extraction tools, ETL in health care streamlines data management like no other processing method. The stakes could not be higher, as the industry is facing debilitating staffing shortages that leave millions of people with insufficient treatment. That’s why healthcare data is so valuable. An optimal data processing system saves lives.

Emerging ETL Technologies

ETL software is compatible with cloud computing systems or real IT databases. That means it can serve as proprietary or open-source software, depending on the facility’s needs. These are some of the most advanced emerging ETL technologies:

  • AWS Glue 
  • Azure Data Factory
  • Google Cloud Dataflow
  • InfoSphere DataStage
  • Oracle Data Integrator

Healthcare facilities choose their ETL software based on a few important factors: their areas of medical expertise, how they want to organize the data, and the staff’s technical experience. For example, public health centers treat a wide range of ailments, so they need more advanced software to handle the variety of patient records.

On the flip side, individual practices or specialist centers have specific data formatting requirements. They need ETL that can add and subtract editing rules as needed. In any case, the organization needs capable IT personnel who can navigate complex software.

The ETL Life Cycle

Aside from the three main steps, ETL software goes through a detailed life cycle. It’s important to understand it to grasp ETL’s true value to the healthcare industry.

  1. Design and Preparation

Every ETL software starts with unique business requirement specifications (BRS). An analyst will collect and record them on a document. Then, an ETL developer and database architect will work to create an appropriate high-level design that meets the specifications. Of course, healthcare professionals must always have high standards when treating patients.

  1. Software Development

The ETL team writes code based on the design specifications, conducts a review to ensure there are no errors, and makes last-minute adjustments. ETL software for healthcare facilities often requires extremely detailed data mapping or naming conventions for various ailments and their severity levels.

  1. Testing

ETL software in high-risk professions like health care undergoes a strict three-part testing protocol. First, the ETL developer will experiment with all the data mappings and validate their accuracy. Then, the database architect uses white box testing to ensure everything is in the correct order and makes it to the staging area intact.

Client or third-party representatives will then do a final test to ensure the data will successfully transfer to its new facility. Such precautionary measures are necessary when dealing with confidential patient information since healthcare cyberattacks lead to worse treatment and a higher mortality rate. ETL helps medical institutions protect their sensitive data.

  1. Deployment

Finally, the ETL software gets transferred from the testing environment to its real-world setting. Healthcare facilities can use the technology with confidence thanks to the rigorous design and testing process. However, it’s not an infallible resource. There are still some challenges medical professionals need to look out for when choosing their ETL solution.

Challenges of Using ETL

The main challenge of using ETL in health care is nonuniformity when collecting data. It’s naturally difficult to ensure data from various sources adhere to the same formatting rules. Mistakes and inconsistencies with medical terminology can slip through the cracks.

Using two or more conflicting systems can also lead to data loss, which would be disastrous in the healthcare industry. Facilities undergo constant operational changes, so integrating a cross-compatible ETL solution while maintaining a quick response time becomes a challenge.

Proper diligence is the only real mitigation strategy for these challenges. Healthcare workers must have exceptional attention to detail due to the nature of their profession, but they’re not perfect. However, avoiding data malpractice is much easier than avoiding medical malpractice. They must keep a close eye out for misspellings, numerical differences, and other problems to ensure the ETL software can do its job.

Optimizing Healthcare One Dataset At a Time

Data from experiments and real patients is the fertilizer that keeps medical science going. Without secure and efficient data processing methods, we could never hope to make relevant treatment advancements. ETL is helping medical professionals optimize their healthcare services one dataset at a time.

Author – Beth is the Managing Editor and content manager at Body+Mind. She is passionate about writing about fitness, diet, fitness, mental health, and parenting. In her spare time, Beth enjoys trying out new fitness routines and recipes.

Disclaimer: The information in this article is provided for general education and informational purposes only, without any express or implied warranty of any kind, including warranties of accuracy, completeness or fitness for any particular purpose. It is not intended to be and does not constitute financial, legal, tax or any other advice specific to you the user or anyone else. TurtleVerse does not guarantee the accuracy, completeness, or reliability of the information and shall not be held responsible for any action taken based on the published information.



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