Keep in mind that UPMC already has a substantial set of data warehouse technologies in place throughout the organization. The new $100 million effort doesn't replace any of those. Down the road, there could come a point at which they get combined into a larger, unified warehouse. But the effort to get something done now in personalized medicine doesn't afford UPMC the luxury of stopping to sort all that out.
"There are data warehouses associated with our electronic health records that lend insight to the clinicians who you know are just trying to understand their own departments and tend to find efficiencies there," Khorey says. "What the higher-level personalized medicine data warehouse really seeks to answer are the points of intersection, where either the business units cross boundaries, or the patient crosses boundaries. And it's not limited just to discrete data, but also has an unstructured data or a ‘big data' element to it that actually is not available in the other data warehouses."
Non-profit status allows UPMC to avoid paying $42 million in property taxes to municipalities, school districts and the county, which helps explain why the system didn't have to fish around under the couch cushions for that kind of scratch.
It's all happening at once in healthcare. As small community hospitals try to scrape together the resources they need to attest to Meaningful Use guidelines, large systems like UPMC double down on mind-numbingly large capital and operating outlays to push patient care and science through technology. Somewhere down the road, the big are bound to swallow the small, don't you think?