How Healthcare Executives Can Retire Legacy Tech Debt while Harnessing the Power of Snowflake’s Data Cloud

Learn how migrating to Snowflake with a trusted migration partner can help healthcare organizations retire legacy tech debt and cut costs while unlocking new paths to innovation.
December 14, 2023
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As the healthcare and life sciences industries continue to evolve in a precarious landscape characterized by huge mergers and announcements like Epic Cogito’s move to Microsoft Azure, executives in these sectors are increasingly tasked with building comprehensive data strategies that incorporate EHRs with other information from throughout the patient journey. 

Unfortunately, many organizations are still relying on outdated, on-premise legacy data systems such as Teradata, Oracle Exadata and Netezza, which can be inefficient, siloed, and costly to maintain. Whether you’re an individual business looking to retire tech debt and move your data into the Snowflake Data Cloud, or a state-wide behemoth in need of a more sophisticated, multi-cloud strategy that allows you to mix and match the best features of multiple cloud providers, there has never been greater demand for a legacy migration strategy with a strong grasp of healthcare requirements at its center.

In this blog, we will walk through the specific limitations of legacy systems and expand on how migrating healthcare data to Snowflake’s Data Cloud can unlock new levels of efficiency and integration for healthcare organizations. We will also provide a high-level roadmap that outlines the necessary steps to retire legacy technology debts and unlock new insights in the cloud. 

The Burden of Legacy Tech Debt in Healthcare and Life Sciences

In the fast-paced and highly regulated healthcare and life sciences industries, executives are facing a significant burden when it comes to managing and utilizing data. The inefficiencies and costs associated with outdated legacy data systems such as Teradata, Oracle Exadata and Netezza grow harder to excuse by the day, robbing organizations of the necessary ability to stay agile and make timely, data-driven decisions.

One major pain point for healthcare and life sciences companies is the management of electronic health records (EHR). In particular, legacy systems struggle to manage costs while handling the vast amounts of data generated by EHR and meeting privacy, security, and interoperability standards like FHIR. Significant limitations around data interoperability resulting from the use of multiple on-premise and other legacy systems can also have serious consequences for an organization–especially in life- and limb-saving situations where every second counts.

These outdated systems also lack the flexibility and scalability needed to adapt to the growing demands of the industry. As the volume and complexity of healthcare data continue to increase, more and more varieties of healthcare data are introduced, and consolidation continues to produce larger and larger systems of healthcare providers, it becomes incredibly costly and complicated for legacy systems to manage data at scale, resulting in slower processing times and decreased productivity. 

Finally, legacy data systems often lack the necessary integration capabilities to connect with other critical systems and tools. This leads to data silos and disjointed workflows, inhibiting collaboration and hindering innovation.

Unleashing the Potential of Snowflake’s Data Cloud for the Healthcare Industry

In the healthcare and life sciences industry, where data is the lifeblood of operations, leveraging the full potential of modern technology is essential. That’s where Snowflake’s Data Cloud comes in. By migrating healthcare data to Snowflake, healthcare executives can unlock new levels of efficiency, integration, and innovation.

Snowflake’s Data Cloud offers a scalable and flexible platform that can handle the massive amounts of data generated by electronic health records (EHR),  even as organizations continue to grow and consolidate into larger provider systems. This means healthcare organizations can eliminate the delays and inaccuracies that plague legacy systems, ensuring timely and accurate patient care.

At the same time, Snowflake continues to act as a hub for data innovation, with AI capabilities that can be strategically leveraged to parse unstructured data, including medical images, through accurate classification and analysis. This opens up new possibilities for diagnosis, treatment, underwriting, and medical research—ultimately improving patient outcomes.

By transitioning from Teradata, Oracle Exadata and Netezza to Snowflake’s Data Cloud, healthcare executives can unlock new levels of efficiency, integration, and innovation, positioning their organizations at the forefront of the industry.

Legacy Migrations in Practice: A Case Study

Nothing better illustrates the impact of a successful Snowflake implementation, of course, than the results of an actual healthcare migration. Take, for example, the case of one of Hakkoda’s clients: a large healthcare organization that recently migrated from Teradata to Snowflake. This client came to us with a need to migrate 12 databases and more than 2 Petabytes of data from Teradata to Snowflake after attempting the migration in-house, where they were committing over 96 hours a week across 3 people to manage the manual migration processes. 

To lighten the resource load of the migration while delivering faster query performance and reduced costs, Hakkoda’s Healthcare and Life Sciences team focused on migrating the largest table of data first, delivering a usable dashboard early in the migration engagement and optimizing the most expensive queries. This allowed the client to test query performance throughout the migration—reassuring them that Snowflake was the best solution for their data needs even before the migration was completed.

In the end, not only did this migration result in a 85% increase in query efficiency and testing speeds sixteen times faster than their legacy counterparts, the move to the cloud also cut costs by 60% in the process. The client was also able to fully decommission their Teradata platform, effectively retiring the associated costs.

Roadmap for Migrating from Legacy Systems to Snowflake

Migrating from legacy data systems like Teradata, Oracle Exadata, and Netezza to Snowflake’s Data Cloud is a strategic decision that can revolutionize your healthcare and life sciences organization. To successfully navigate this transition, a roadmap is crucial to ensure a smooth and efficient migration process.

  1. Analyze Your Existing System: Begin by conducting a comprehensive assessment of your existing legacy systems, including the data volume, quality, and integration capabilities. You should take a complete inventory of your data assets, benchmark performance, and map your user roles in order to better test how your data performs in Snowflake and alleviate common pain points when provisioning. 
  2. Define your Objectives: Clearly define your goals and objectives for the migration. Determine what specific benefits you hope to achieve, such as improved scalability, faster processing times, and enhanced integration capabilities.
  3. Develop a Migration Plan: Work with your IT team and a trusted migration partner to develop a detailed migration plan. This should include a timeline, resource allocation, and a step-by-step process for transferring data from your legacy systems to Snowflake.
  4. Data Cleansing and Preparation: Prior to the migration, it is crucial to clean and prepare your data. Identify and eliminate any duplicates, inconsistencies, or inaccuracies to ensure that your data is clean and ready for migration.
  5. Data Migration: Execute the data migration plan, ensuring that data is transferred accurately and securely from your legacy systems to Snowflake’s Data Cloud. Begin by completing an agile move of pipelines & data, then test, optimize, & improve performance against benchmarks, and finally decommission your legacy systems. 
  6. Testing and Validation: Once the data migration is complete, conduct thorough testing and validation to ensure that the data has been successfully transferred and integrated into Snowflake. Test various use cases and scenarios to ensure data accuracy and functionality.
  7. Training and Adoption: Provide comprehensive training to your teams on how to use Snowflake’s Data Cloud effectively. Ensure that employees understand the benefits and features of the platform and how it can support their daily workflows and decision-making processes.
  8. Ongoing Support and Optimization: Continuously monitor and optimize your Snowflake environment to ensure optimal performance and efficiency. 

Retiring Tech Debt Faster with Hakkōda’s Migration Centers of Excellence

As more and more healthcare and life sciences organizations make the decision to migrate their data into the cloud, the demand for better, faster migration pipelines has also continued to grow. Large migration engagements, like the one undertaken by the healthcare organization in the example above, can take months, if not years to complete, and operate across many levels of transfer and optimization. Migration Centers of Excellence, or CoEs, are enterprise architecture functions that help streamline these lengthy migration processes by helping companies “set cloud policy, guide provider selection, and assist with solution architecture and workload placement, with the goals of improving outcomes and managing risks.” 

As an experienced systems integrator with decades of experience, Hakkoda has created a series of Centers of Excellence in data migration, modernization and strategy for clients across industries. These Centers of Excellence leverage our data teams’ specialized knowledge and resources from across the modern data stack, as well as a host of automated Solutions and Accelerators built with common pain points and bottlenecks in mind. 

These tools include migration-specific accelerators like the Automated Query Performance Tester (AQPT), which  automates the performance testing process by running through and automatically executing large query batches within Snowflake while generating insights on key metrics.

Moving to the Modern Data Stack with Snowflake and Hakkōda

The imperative to make the leap to the cloud and off of legacy or on-premise systems grows clearer by the day, but that doesn’t mean it needs to be a blind leap of faith. Hakkoda’s Healthcare and Life Sciences team is 100% SnowPro certified and has firsthand experience with the specific data requirements of your industry. 

We partner with organizations like yours to supercharge data migrations and streamline the retirement of legacy systems, but also continue to work closely with our clients once they’re safely in the cloud to innovate their data practices with the latest and greatest the modern data stack has to offer—whether that’s actionable insights driven with strong data science capabilities, automation of manual data processes with MLOps, or the use of AI technologies to tackle unstructured data and improve patient outcomes. 

Ready to embark on the Data Innovation Journey? Let’s talk.

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