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December 14, 2015
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Healthcare: “Making elephant sized strides together with Big Data”

An interesting and atypical thing is happening in Healthcare. Leading data driven organizations are not simply looking to share their Hadoop experiences, successes, use cases, and best practices … but more than ever before, they are embracing the opportunity to share their experiences outside their organizations, in a style that resembles the open source community on which Hadoop was built.

It all started at Hadoop Summit on June 10th 2015 when a simple breakfast meeting was organized to showcase the experiences of a couple of healthcare’s earliest adopters of Hadoop. The 7am hour was an early start for all that had travelled to the Mecca of Hadoop, but after the coffee had settled the jet lag and the compounding effects of last night’s reunions of old friends and colleagues in the hotel lobby bar…the round table conversations started to buzz! A question here and an answer there, a thought provoking statement, and a nod of agreement that “we are doing that also” and before we new it…information on POC’s, staffing resource expectations, non traditional data source ingestion, and future roadmaps started to fill the room.

The group was 24 strong with a mixed collection from newbies looking for the Rosetta Stone language version for Hadoop, to seasoned veterans who throw words like Ranger, Pig, and Hive around like they are lead committers to those projects. Though a small initial group- constituents from the Provider, Payer, Pharma, and other related industry organizations were eager to share and receive insights from other industry leaders. Do they not know that we are not supposed to play in the sandbox together? Historically, we don’t even share well within our own organizations! What is going on?

So, eventually our time or perhaps the coffee ran out. As we were to disperse, I could still see small groups of interested listeners leaning in to hear from a peer, or request clarity on a statement heard from across the room. I thanked everyone for attending and asked if it was a good use of their time, to which the remaining attendees replied, “…can we do this again?”

December 17th will mark our 7th monthly Healthcare HUG meeting and the participation has grown to 115+ members representing many of the World’s leading Healthcare organizations. The format remains the same, with the web-based meetings being held every 3rd Thursday of the given month. We divide the time into four quarters, with the first 15 minutes covering technical information such as: new version updates, roadmap visibility, security, governance, and other pertinent information. In Quarter’s 2 and 3 we have two customer led presentations discussing use cases, best practices and future plans. We then close out the hour webinar with 15 minutes of open mic Q&A.

The 2 rules of participation are simple and strictly adhered to…Rule #1 we don’t allow vendors, partners, or Hortonworks employees to attend the calls (unless they are presenting from an engineering perspective). Rule #2- we don’t record the sessions, in order to encourage participation on the webinar, and to ensure the integrity of the groups information exchanges.

Feedback from meeting attendees

“If I haven’t said it loud enough, this is an awesome forum! Thank you for giving us the opportunity to share our story. Look forward to hearing how other’s are solving their data needs.”

Paul Vee, Senior Program Manager-The Laura P. and Leland K. Whittier Virtual Pediatric Intensive Care Unit, Children’s Hospital Los Angeles

“Thanks for what you are doing. You are the only big (or small) data vendor that I know of that is conducting a forum like this for healthcare and it is very beneficial. Another excellent session! This is one of the best uses of my time.”

Lonny Northrup, Senior Medical Informaticist Intermountain Healthcare

“Awesome forum with very relevant presentations. Thanks again for organizing this, it is very valuable.”

In closing, we are all this in together as early adopters and like the Hadoop ecosystem…one entity cannot innovate and succeed as fast as an entire ecosystem of users.

I continue to be amazed at the willingness of our HUG members to volunteer information, which on many occasions could be seen as information that provides a competitive advantage in a highly competitive industry.

In this season of giving…thanks to all that have shared without the expectation of receiving. Though from what I have witnessed…the gift of sharing information comes back several times over!

For more information on the Healthcare Hadoop User Group please feel free to reach out to Richard Proctor GM, Global Healthcare and Life Sciences, Hortonworks at


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