Big Data

Suresh Munuswamy: Innovating Data Engineering to Solve Critical Challenges in Healthcare 

Data Engineering - Suresh Munuswamy

Health systems and hospitals are confronting a perfect storm of increasingly challenging problems. While healthcare leaders navigate through the turbulent marketplace, struggling to thrive amidst marketplace consolidation, competition, and legislation, their quality of patient care delivery is threatened by the severe clinical staffing shortage that has worsened worldwide in the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic. Concurrently, medical innovation is extending individual longevity, but older populations experience more age-related diseases and require more surgeries. Adding to the complexity are the waves of new viral illnesses that continue to drive patients into emergency rooms. In managing the daily business of healthcare, all these clinical and operational factors generate millions of data. 

In this dynamic environment, hospital administrators seeking new strategies to promote their institutions’ viability and profitability are turning to their Information Technology (IT) department for solutions. Buoyed by the accelerated development of innovative technologies, and the sophisticated automated and analytic capabilities associated with tools such as artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML), advanced data engineering is emerging as a vital component contributing to the healthcare C-suite’s strategic planning.  

Suresh Munuswamy is a highly accomplished data engineer and subject matter expert, with special expertise in the healthcare sector. Suresh serves as Technical Lead for a midwestern (U.S.) health system, where he applies nearly 25 years of IT experience and more than a decade of focusing on IT in the life sciences field to solving some of healthcare’s critical challenges. In the process, he has been recognized with multiple Excellence Awards from his employer for his extraordinary data engineering achievements in areas such as Covid-19 vaccine administration, improving the patient experience, providing physicians with tools to monitor clinical services, and creating an integrated metrics reporting platform that supports executives’ efforts to develop and implement evidence-based population health strategies. 

Suresh is an Informatica Certified developer with a Master’s degree in Data Analytics. He is widely regarded for his creative approach and technical abilities in designing, developing, and implementing data warehouse (DW) architecture, data integration, data quality, database tuning, relational data model design, and ETL design, as well deploying and integrating a wide array of tools and databases including AZURE Databricks, API, Python, Oracle, Teradata, and more. 

“This is an exciting time for data engineers who can harness tools such as cloud computing, AI and Generative AI, ML, and large language models (LLM), to create new data mining and analytic strategies. I am continually inspired to develop innovative applications for these new technologies, to help health systems provide the highest quality care to their communities,” says Suresh.  

As Technical Lead, Suresh is responsible for envisioning and executing data engineering solutions that quickly process and integrate massive quantities of data derived from numerous diverse and complex inputs. These may include data points generated from both cloud-based computing and on-prem systems such as Informatica, JASON, HL7, Parquet, XML, API Call, Workday, online transaction processing (OLTP), and EHR (electronic health records). 

The solutions that Suresh designs often utilize ETL (Extract, Transform, and Load) architecture, along with tools such as Informatica’s Mass Ingestion (MI) service or Cloud Data Integration to address urgent, short-term needs or longer-range clinical or operational issues. For example, when Covid-19 first struck his health system’s staff, he and his team built and deployed vaccine integration systems in less than 40 hours to manage and monitor safe vaccine delivery to 35,000 personnel. Related systems monitored clinicians’ health status and hospital staffing needs, enabling administrators to provide adequate clinical staff when patients most needed critical care. 

“Although our vaccine systems were designed to meet the immediate challenges created by Covid-19, the new data integration application can now be deployed quickly to manage other mass vaccine delivery needs, in the event of future epidemics,” Suresh adds. 

In a longer-term use case for clinical purposes, Suresh engineered a solution to instantly provide cardiac specialists with vast volumes of real-time and historical patient data, that the physicians used in research and to improve patient care after a heart procedure. Another data engineering solution developed by Suresh measured and aggregated patient experience data, for compliance reporting and process improvement purposes. In the age of value-based health care, the information provided by these and other applications helps hospitals do better for their patients, while improving their own financial performance.   

Many of Suresh’s data engineering solutions are designed to enhance hospital operations and support population health through a data-driven approach. For example, to analyze and bundle clinical procedures that may reduce patient costs, without compromising care and service quality, hospital leaders must evaluate internal and external data, including data from payers and providers outside the institution. Typically, collecting all these data points is cumbersome, and integrating external data from various sources can be challenged by technical issues with onboarding data from new payers, data quality, data feed format, cadence, standard codes, and other technical problems. But with integration tools developed by Suresh, administrators can now quickly capture and compare surgical procedure costs by different providers, to establish more affordable and equitable fees for patient care. 

Other customized data engineering applications that impact population health have speeded the processing of new payer data and allowed for parallel processing of multiple payer data. These systems enhance business operations with improved functionality, automated quality checks, and programs that feed complex data into user-friendly dashboards that allow executives to easily access information and advanced analytics internally, without the cost of engaging external vendors, to aid them in making fact-based decisions for their organizations’ present and future needs.

Suresh strives to innovate in data engineering, to support a wide range of important initiatives that promote hospital sustainability and enable healthcare facilities to deliver safe and effective patient care. At his institution, he collaborates with administrators to identify emerging trends and opportunities, and analyze trends that may affect the industry. His data expertise facilitates decisions that affect healthcare delivery channels, cost, and quality for patients, while providing the organization with a distinct strategic advantage. Leveraging data engineering innovation, Suresh is modeling how transformative IT impacts all of a hospital’s stakeholders. 

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