Posted: March 28, 2017

What's An EDH (Enterprise Data Hub)?

As healthcare organizations adapt to the quickening pace of market change, you find yourselves supporting a growing multitude of marketing technologies and data repositories. Ideally, your organization would apply rigorous analytics to the wealth of consumer data you're gathering, leveraging the technologies at your disposal to execute highly targeted, data-led marketing efforts. The reality, however, is that the majority of these technologies are heavily siloed, making the creation of a single, indexable view of your data — and hence fully realized marketing efforts — almost impossible.

An enterprise data hub (EDH) offers a promising opportunity for your organization to aggregate and harmonize a significant portion of your consumer data and execute on your strategic marketing goals. An EDH acts as a single, secure repository for any number of data sets (or lakes), enabling organizations to fully capitalize on the data and technologies you currently support. And it also strongly positions you to adapt to future technology changes.

What Makes an EDH so Appealing?

With data heavily siloed, often in multiple competing data formats, the best hope for healthcare organizations to apply comprehensive analytics is in a strategy known as ETL (extract, transform, and load): pull data from one system, translate it into another format, and then transfer it again into another system, as TechTarget notes. The issue with this process is not only that it's extraordinarily cumbersome and time intensive, often to the point of being functionally unusable, but also that there isn't an ability to query other systems, making it difficult to know what data exists in a given system. This problem is compounded if you're trying to do all the work yourself, with your own limited time and resources.

For instance, you might have critical gaps in your marketing data (such as how select patient groups prefer to be contacted) that could potentially be filled by patient data in another location. But because marketers can't "see" that second data set, it remains undiscovered. Indeed, this is the central problem caused by data siloing.

An EDH Solves This Problem in Two Ways:

1. By aggregating data from any number of data silos into a single location, and

2. By standardizing and indexing that data so that it's easily queried and leveraged.

An EDH resolves any data formatting differences that may currently exist between silos, such as differences in naming conventions or structure (one format has three patient information boxes, while another has five). With data silos eliminated and data stored in a single, easily accessible location, in a single format, your organization is free to fully leverage your data in any way you see fit.

That ability is transformational, enabling you to apply real-time marketing analytics and perform fast lookups on the majority of your consumer data and feed that information into any number of marketing technologies — whether that's to improve targeting in search and social campaigns or to step up your personalization efforts on your website.

Moreover, since an EDH can be designed to efficiently and securely process data at any scale, there's no theoretical limitation as to the amount of data that can be stored and analyzed.

While it can indeed take time and effort to translate data into an EDH, the process overcomes the chief barriers preventing your healthcare organization from capitalizing on your data-led marketing goals, so crucial for achieving efficiency, growth, and success in the digital era. In that, an EDH represents the most viable path forward for many healthcare organizations. Though finding one that fits healthcare's specific requirements for security and privacy may still be a challenge.

EDH Technology Has Already Proven Valuable in Numerous Other Industries

While EDH technology has only recently made its way into healthcare, other sectors have been using it for a number of years.

For instance, many telecommunications companies use an EDH to efficiently handle their vast quantities of consumer data and leverage it for marketing and refinement efforts. As IBM observes, an EDH not only enables telcos to develop a single, comprehensive view of their customers by integrating data from numerous departments (and thereby eliminating inconsistencies), it helps them to determine which marketing strategies are most effective. For example, telcos can correlate the personal preferences of high-value consumers with broad social media sentiment — a concept known as sentiment analysis — to pinpoint which business practices and marketing efforts are making an impact.

Indeed, the ability to leverage multiple channels or data sources simultaneously is one of the most valuable elements of an EDH. As Capgemini reports, financial services are likewise using EDHs in this regard. Moreover, by leveraging integrated customer profiles and aggregated transaction histories, banks are also vastly improving their ability to detect fraud and mitigate risk. In healthcare, this has the rough corollary of detecting gaps in patient care and mobilizing clinical and marketing resources to help close them.

Sectors are also using EDHs to account for the increasingly wide variety of consumer facing document file formats, as well as the digital devices needed to read them. Scientific and research institutions, for instance, are using a type of EDH dubbed a "Smart Data Hub System" to securely convert and organize a variety of file formats (PDF, ePub, etc.), from numerous document management systems, into a single, universally-readable format, which is accessible from any device. Indeed, organizations must ensure that their customers are able to simply and easily access any digital communication provided — a goal readily achieved with an EDH.

Of course, given the complexity of healthcare technology systems and the attendant regulatory environment, an EDH will need to be specifically architected for healthcare to help navigate the potential pitfalls. With the urgent need for healthcare organizations to fully capitalize on their consumer data with a single view, finding and using such an EDH will represent a giant, universally applicable leap forward.

If you want to learn more about big data and the technology driving need for an EDH, check out our creative development post, What's in Your Tech Stack?