Today, healthcare stands as one of the most heavily regulated industries worldwide. What is a trivial technology decision in other sectors can be an excruciating evaluation process in healthcare to ensure that the highest standards of data access and security are met.
Healthcare organizations need a technology stack that can handle the volume of data they generate, process, and store. The infrastructure should be flexible enough to adapt to changing needs and growth, but imperative that security and data is treated with the utmost care.
This often boils down to one key question: Is it better to self-host infrastructure or use a combination of SaaS-managed services? Ultimately, this decision frequently boils down to a trade-off between costs and benefits, which may vary for each service.
- What's the use case?
- What is the cost?
- What resources are required to run it yourselves?
- How complex is it to manage?
- Would an outage of a SaaS service affect you?
Personally, we firmly believe that in the privacy-conscious world healthcare organizations operate in, self-hosting your infrastructure is the optimal path to follow. This not only ensures enhanced privacy but also guarantees greater control over your operations.
So why not just use a SaaS stack?
Many organizations refrain from adopting a SaaS stack due to two primary concerns: lack of data control and the high costs associated with doing so.
By using SaaS services, healthcare organizations are ultimately relying on a third-party provider to host their infrastructure and/or data. There are a number of products attempting to solve data ownership discomfort by hosting the control plane for the service, but allowing the customer to continue to own the data in their infrastructure.
The pros are great, as you don’t need to invest in hardware, software, or a team of IT professionals to manage their systems. The downside is that you end up having no control over the end solution.
You and your team are not accountable for the underlying configuration and operation of the service. At the end of the day, it's not your responsibility. You are relying on others to be as paranoid and diligent about security as you need them to be, and are putting your fate in the hands of others.
If you were to go with best-of-breed SaaS tooling options, your spending would amount to a dollar figure close to or over $1,000,000 million a year. Those costs can be broken down into the following figures:
- Looker - $100,000
- Fivetran - $100,000 - $200,000
- Snowflake - $100,000 to $1.5 million depending on usage
- Astronomer (a managed version of Airflow) - $25,000 for smaller use cases
- AWS Sagemaker/Databricks - $100,000 to $1.5 million (most likely on the higher end here.)
If you move to more secondary applications for data observability, data cataloging, and data governance, each could involve contracts upwards of $75,000 or more, depending on the amount of data your organization works with daily.
The truth is there is a similar open-source switch for the data stack that can solve a majority of the use cases that the average SaaS stack does, is quite cheaper, and most importantly when implemented properly is way more secure.
Why Healthcare companies should self-host their data stacks
Below is a common open-source stack that organizations can utilize to run infrastructure at scale:
Self-hosting infrastructure gives healthcare organizations complete control over their data in terms of privacy and residency. On top of that, it also gives total flexibility in how the infrastructure is configured - allowing their systems to meet their specific needs, and customize their applications to fit their workflows.
Being able to have strong compliance and privacy around product analytic suites is especially helpful when you require GDPR, HIPAA, and CCPA environments that are challenging to enforce across the board at scale.
The bottom line is that healthcare organizations need to ensure that the data they collect, process, and store are secure and compliant with regulations such as HIPAA and HITRUST.
They need to ensure that their data is stored in a secure location that is only accessible by authorized personnel. Additionally, healthcare organizations need to ensure that their data is stored in a location that complies with data residency requirements.
The downside, of course, is that teams are responsible for maintaining the infrastructure and all the day-2 operations that come with it, usually adding more load to an already stretched ops team.
A better way forward
Ultimately the decision to self-host or not comes down to the specific needs and resources of the healthcare organization.
If the friction of managing infrastructure was removed, but solutions could still be deployed and operated from within your own cloud account that would represent the best of both worlds.
Total control over your deployments, whilst removing the knowledge bottleneck required to deploy and manage the day 2 operations is a panacea many are striving towards.
Plural is a solution that aims to provide a balance between self-hosting infrastructure applications within your own cloud account, seamless upgrades, and scaling.
In return, it’s easier for healthcare organizations to meet regulatory requirements such as HIPAA and HITRUST, ensuring data privacy and residency, while also providing flexibility and control over their technology stack.
Plural provides healthcare organizations with a flexible and scalable infrastructure via Kubernetes that can handle the volume of data they generate, process, and store. The operational experience is designed to make infrastructure easy to use and easy to scale. Meaning healthcare organizations can add new features and functionality as needed without having to worry about infrastructure management.
To learn more about how Plural works and how we are helping healthcare organizations deploy secure and scalable infrastructure on Kubernetes, reach out to our team to schedule a demo.
If you would like to test out Plural, sign up for an free open-source account and get started today.
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