When it comes to choosing a database platform in the healthcare industry, hospitals and large healthcare providers have historically chosen the familiar vendor, like Microsoft SQL Server. They know the name, their IT staff is typically comfortable with Microsoft products, and they feel that—if they had to—they could get support from Microsoft.
Another database option that could offer more cost flexibility is often not even considered. Even if healthcare IT professionals are familiar with open source Postgres, it’s likely that they’re nervous or skeptical to make the shift—mostly due to fear of the unknown.
Working with customers in the healthcare industry that are largely in that corporate enterprise box, Konica Minolta Healthcare IT, industry leader in medical technology, saw an opportunity to reshape their mindsets.
The Path to PostgreSQL
As the Director of Engineering & Architecture at Konica Minolta, I’ve seen a lack of enterprise IT knowledge around open source and Postgres in hospital systems, imaging groups, and imaging centers for years. In healthcare, ensuring your database is running 24/7 as you’re seeing patients 24/7 is vital. However, assuming that Microsoft SQL Server is the only answer shows a lack of understanding about databases and database management.
When speaking with our customers, we lead with ensuring they’re aware we are 100% supporting all components of the system we provide them, including the database. We use open source technologies from EDB because it allows us to control our own destiny. We aren't beholden to licensing costs that we have to pass on to the customer, and we have experts that can maintain and support these technologies.
The conversation typically turns into a service conversation rather than a technology conversation. We want the customer to be comfortable with relying on us for all of their support. They should never question the technology running their application, or worry about what that technology is. Many healthcare providers today feel that if they have a Microsoft product in their environment, they need to have Microsoft experts in-house to manage those systems. Our goal is to ensure we take that burden off of their shoulders and provide them comfort in knowing that we support their entire platform.
Remaining Secure in Your Database
Patient data privacy and security is paramount for healthcare providers, as issues in these areas could be detrimental. Going back to fear of the unknown—open source and Postgres—healthcare IT workers worry, when hearing about these systems, that they don’t have anyone in-house that knows how to use the platform. They aren't sure that it can be secured, patched, or managed the same way that software from a major company can be.
That conversation leads again back to us, talking about how we test our application end-to-end and ensure we meet security and HIPAA regulations with our software. We also mention to our customers that the speed at which the open source community finds and resolves security issues is usually faster than it is in large software companies. An open source database ensures we can address any security gaps quickly.
Our application has multiple open source components, the most important of which is the Postgres database. Our application has to be HIPAA compliant in order for us to sell to Healthcare systems. We meet this compliance by ensuring our application securely manages patient data, and we use Postgres to provide the best performing data management platform possible.
Understanding What Support Means
What about when the customer does have a database issue? At Konica Minolta, the strongest selling point that we have is that our customers never need to worry about the database behind the application we are providing them. For every issue they have, they come to us. We have a 24/7 team of Postgres experts that are monitoring and managing the database. We take care of everything for the customer, end-to-end.
It is when the customer understands that we support every piece of their application that they know they don't have to worry about managing their database on their own. They can focus on providing patient care when using our platform, and we take care of everything behind the scenes. Healthcare IT teams are freed up to work on what really matters in their business. In the ever-expanding threat landscape of healthcare IT, those teams can focus on managing and maintaining the security of their entire environment, rather than one small piece. They can now focus on patient information privacy and security.
Our customers don't need to even think about what is under the hood because they know there are experts ensuring the everything runs smoothly. They can rest assured that their application will run without issues.
A Future With Postgres
Working with a PostgreSQL database to provide to our customers has improved both costs and database performance. With Postgres, we no longer have to burden customers with SQL Server licensing costs, license audits, and paying additional costs to get the features we need. When we moved our application to Postgres four years ago, we looked at multiple relational database platforms and found the best performance and features in Postgres. We never looked back.
Today, our healthcare customers not only embrace our application backed by Postgres, but are starting to see the benefits of running Postgres elsewhere in their environment. Every day, we help our customers see the power of the platform and where they might start using Postgres for their data warehouse needs or other areas of their business.
Open source does not equal “unsupported,” and with our help, healthcare providers understand that they can get the support and training they need, and experience the power of a platform used by one of their trusted partners—us!
Konica Minolta is a proud EDB Postgres user, and we’re glad we got to speak at EDB’s virtual conference, Postgres Vision 2020! In case you missed it, you can watch our session here:
Adam Bunch is the Director of Engineering & Architecture at Konica Minolta Healthcare IT.