BlogMedical Device Data at Scale: Storage and Security from MVP to Marketplace

Medical Device Data at Scale: Storage and Security from MVP to Marketplace

Technology is creating a data tsunami, and the advanced medical device landscape is feeling the rising tide. As devices become more sophisticated with the rise of artificial intelligence and connected devices, traditional data management approaches are buckling under the strain.

This deluge of data, while brimming with potential for personalized medicine and groundbreaking research, presents a critical challenge for advanced medical device companies: how to store, manage, secure, and scale it effectively.

Numerous articles have been written about scaling data storage and infrastructure, but few, if any, address the unique challenges of storing medical device data at scale. Medical device data can be large-scale time series data, file data, point-in-time diagnostic measurements, and everything in between. Creating a system that can handle all of these use cases and allow thousands of devices to connect simultaneously requires a lot of planning from the product and operations sides.

Let’s look at some of the primary considerations of managing medical device data, from project inception to scale.

Start Small. Think Big.

It may seem obvious reading this statement, but what does it mean to start small and think big in terms of data management?

What teams often overlook in the minimal viable product (MVP) stage of a new medical device is this: designing a cloud infrastructure should be a collaboration between the product software engineering team and the infrastructure team (even if those 2 “teams” are just 1 person each). Secondly, try not to get ahead of what’s needed in the present.

Only Provision What You Need When You Need It

The first typical requirement to consider is the number of simultaneous users the cloud needs to support. Despite every founder’s dream, it is extremely unlikely that the system will be supporting that number for months or even years after launch.

Consequently, it’s neither economically nor operationally desirable just to deploy the “worst case scenario” and allow usage to “grow” into the infrastructure.

This was the typical approach even as recently as 5-6 years ago when provisioning hardware for data centers. It was costly and inefficient. The problem was that by the time the growth caught up to the hardware specification, the equipment was depreciated and needed replacement.

One of the strongest justifications for cloud services, it allows you to only provision what you need when you need it. Click To Tweet

This is one of the strongest justifications for cloud services, it allows you to only provision what you need when you need it.

Given all of this, your product planning should focus on creating a minimum “safe” configuration (backups, replication, disaster recovery), allowing for easy horizontal scaling by simply adding capacity.

This will accommodate initial growth without creating a lot of complicated and expensive infrastructure.

Security. Scale. Security. Security.

During initial design and subsequent updates to the product and infrastructure, security must be a prime consideration.

When configuring infrastructure, we know it’s tempting just to get everything working and tell ourselves “We can lock it down later.”

The reality is that too often, “later” is after a breach has occurred. Not prioritizing security can lead to a very open and insecure network. This is disastrous for any business, but with medical device data, the fines for data exposure start at $5,000/patient under HIPAA.

Do not be tempted by the quick and easy approach.

A few days (or weeks) spent planning, configuring, and testing can be the difference between weeks or months cleaning up from a breach, and fines that will potentially put your company out of business.

Always design and test your infrastructure configuration with security as your number one priority.

Data at Scale

Medical device data provides a unique set of problems. The data can be high-frequency, multi-channel time-series data streams like EKG data. It can be the result of a testing process or even a large number of images or audio files.

The vast majority of this data is attributable to a patient, so maintaining HIPAA and GDPR compliance is critical as well.

It can be very challenging to manage all of this data, especially as it climbs into the petabyte realm. When designing the product, teams should carefully consider these various use cases and their associated data types to optimize the underlying storage technologies.

As the product evolves, consider if the underlying technology scales horizontally and vertically. Does it backup, replicate, and disaster recover? Being able to horizontally scale your data is useless unless you can back it up and restore it in the event of a critical downtime.

Using multiple different storage technologies for the various data types can keep the overall system performative and more resilient to single points of failure or corruption.

Storing, maintaining, scaling, and protecting data is an integrated exercise. It requires knowledge and experience from several domains, like operations, data analytics, and product design. Creating and running a platform that does all of that, while keeping the data secure, is a critical functionality for today’s medical devices.

Start Secure, Scale Smart, and Partner with Experience

Planning for data storage and security isn’t just about scaling – it’s about building a foundation for success from the very beginning. At Galen Data, we understand the unique challenges of medical device data and have the cloud expertise to help you navigate them.

Partner with Galen Data today to:

  • Develop a secure and scalable data management plan.
  • Leverage our expertise in medical device data and compliance.
  • Focus on innovation while we handle the infrastructure.

Schedule a call with us today to discuss your specific needs and see how Galen Data can help you store, manage, and secure your medical device data at scale.


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