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How Oracle Autonomous Database Is Enabling Breakthroughs in Healthcare

Guest Author

This post was contributed by Oracle's Director of Cloud PR & Communications, EMEA & JAPAC, Rebecca English.

Applying data analytics to healthcare is leading to incredible breakthroughs in everything from early disease detection and genetic exploration, to drug discovery and efficacy testing.

The ability to analyze the human genome is leading to new forms of precision medicine where treatments are tailored not just to specific diseases, but also to different patient cohorts, based on their DNA. While it has long been known that some treatments are more effective with some patients than others, data-driven precision medicine can give a clearer insight into exactly which patients will respond most favorably. This also provides guidance on the percentage of the total patient pool they represent.

But the sheer complexity of the foundational component of digital healthcare - the human genome – means the processing power and data volumes required are substantial. It is the extreme end of the data challenge companies face in terms of size and complexity. It’s so big that it may in fact require 100 Gigabytes of storage for each genome. Some say, we’ll see over 2 billion human genomes stored by 2025.

If digital healthcare researchers are to progress their work, and bring tests and treatments to market, it is critical they have access to systems and processes that enable them to analyze the huge volumes of data required.

It is a challenge that is well suited to a new category of technology – Oracle's Autonomous Database.

For the Australian company Applied Precision Medicine (APM) Pty Ltd, this technology is helping it quickly build the data analytics platform its research and pharmaceutical clients use to create tests that determine the effectiveness of new treatments. APM helps researchers take their concepts from an early ‘bench’ stage through to assembling a fully-engineered system that meets all regulatory compliance requirements.

Reduce Administrative Costs

According to APM’s managing director Richard Rendell, using Oracle’s Autonomous Database takes out much of the human effort required in data ingestion and matching, while also ensuring its platforms meet global requirements for security and privacy.

“We have to use data warehouse capabilities to look at the data to determine how relevancies are occurring,” Rendell says. “But DNA data is enormous - we have the potential of generating almost a terabyte per person from their DNA.  Data sets can run into a petabyte for just 1200 patients."

“This technology gives us the ability to build something that is robust, enterprise-grade, clinically-acceptable, and HIPAA compliant, and be able to do that very, very quickly.”

Using Oracle’s Autonomous Data Warehouse, Rendell says APM can spin up a server, create the data warehouse, and begin ingesting data in a matter of minutes.

“In the past it took a huge amount of effort and quite a significant amount of time to do that,” Rendell says. “That’s a whole lot of cost that we don’t have to pass on to the customer, and we can do it with fewer people and get on with the higher value tasks.”

Another key benefit comes via Oracle’s integration tools. Rendell says data sets often come in different formats, ranging from basic comma separated files to JSON, XML and the HL7 files commonly used in healthcare. Genetic data has over a dozen specific file formats that are used regularly.

"A major part of the effort is doing the data integration,” Rendell says. “We need building blocks we can rely on, so that we don’t have to bring in an army of people to do DevOps or DBA work.”

Rendell says not only does Oracle’s Autonomous Database deliver commercial benefits for APM and its clients, it also creates a high degree of confidence that the platforms being used to run the tests are robust and compliant with regulations.

Reduce Risk

He says another key benefit of the Oracle Autonomous Database is that it is self-securing, which can prevent many of the types of data breaches currently witnessed in healthcare in the United States.

“What we know from breach reporting in the U.S. is that about 59 percent of the breaches that happen are internal,” Rendell says. “So they aren’t systems being hacked, but people who are inside the organizations who are not following procedures or who are not exercising appropriate behaviors as far as the system access and policies are concerned.”

The ability for autonomous technology to manage user access and self-patch, along with its default application of encryption, reduces the burden on Rendell and his staff.

“I am ticking a lot of boxes by clicking a button and starting a warehouse. I haven’t had to put a single person on it,” Rendell says. “Having the encryption managed is very nice because we can just start these things up and build them out for particular customers.”

Ultimately, this leads to faster results for researchers and pharmaceutical companies, leading to reduced costs and time to market. 

“Our role is to get them to that commercial end point,” Rendell says. “The greatest benefit is being able to help the customer commercialize quickly and confidently.

“It is a nice way to use artificial intelligence to specifically achieve a task which you can train it very carefully for.”

And critically, that also means that treatments are available to patients faster, and with a higher degree of confidence.

Oracle is redefining what’s possible with autonomous  – improving outcomes not only for our customers but also the people they serve. Research and healthcare providers now have the means to unlock their potential like never before. Using the power of autonomous, they can run their organizations more efficiently, see the signals faster, and harness the abundance of data to gain predictive insights. Our customers can use autonomous technologies to drive real innovation and real change for the healthcare industry.

To learn more about Oracle Autonomous Database, read more here and try it today.

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