How Blockchain Can Improve Healthcare Administration
Healthcare stocks have gained 31% over the past 12 months, according to Fidelity, and 2018 is expected to be another growth year. But improving healthcare’s cost structure remains a key area for boosting the industry’s financial performance, and that’s where blockchain technology can be disruptive in flushing out costly legacy systems.
Most healthcare providers have moved to some sort of electronic health records (EHR) system, but the lack of interoperability remains a major challenge. As the industry and the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) work towards creating a network where records can be shared by all stakeholders, many experts say a blockchain-based solution is the answer.
Interoperability a Key Challenge
An article at U.S. National Library of Medicine said there are hundreds of government-certified EHR products in use across the country, all with different terminologies, technical specifications, and capabilities. This leaves many healthcare providers unable to efficiently share patient information with each other. HHS has said it wants interoperability between all disparate economic health record systems by 2024. It laid out a 10-year plan that identified a number of guiding principles including the ability to build on existing health IT infrastructure, establishing core technical standards, certifying new platforms, and ensuring privacy and security.
This year looks promising for third-party blockchain solutions in the healthcare sector. AMCHART, a patient-driven electronic health record system that employs blockchain, offers a secure and adaptable platform that can bring interoperability to EHRs. The Houston, Texas-based project offers on-chain permissions, security and data integrity while allowing the patient to control ownership of their data across the network.
“Most other EHR initiatives have failed because the barrier of entry was too high to compete with large legacy-based systems who out-market smaller companies,” said AMCHART CEO Aman Quadri. “Since the advent of blockchain technology, we can combine multiple techs and start from the ground up. The sales cycle can be slow in healthcare and that can lead to a slowdown in adoption, but using a grassroots campaign can begin the changes needed for improved information sharing and patient-controlled data.” The firm is currently holding a token presale and will open its general token sale on March 1.
HHS noted interoperability is about more than just technology and requires all using parties to have trust, adopt certain principles and governance. And because there are confidentiality issues around health data, it can also require the involvement of lawmakers.
Blockchain Can Enable Communications Between Disparate Systems
While HHS never mentioned blockchain in its 2014 recommendations, it has since moved in that direction. At least on the tech end of the spectrum, blockchain could enable more stakeholders to securely access the information they need.
The agency hosted a blockchain challenge and call for white papers last year, and Steven Posnack, M.S., M.H.S., Director of the Office of Standards and Technology, told Health Data Management he expects blockchain to take on a bigger role in the coming years as the federal government focuses on new technologies and interoperability. “There could be prototypes, pilots, proofs of concept and limited deployments likely in payment and security contexts,” Posnack said.
D’Arcy Guerin Gue, Vice President of Industry Relations at Phoenix Health Systems, said blockchain offers a promising way to bring interoperability to EHRs. Gue said it could enable physicians to collaborate with each other and gain access to patient records with an access key.
Healthcare providers could also use blockchain to develop application programming interfaces (APIs) to help with everything from claims and pharmacy to identity management. It could enable machine learning to quickly analyze vast amounts of data and use algorithms to present a clearer picture of a patient’s health.
“Blockchain combined with other technologies would enable major efficiencies in the claims process and improve the overall healthcare experience for all stakeholders,” Gue said.
Making healthcare administration more efficient and effective is a massive opportunity. “The current record costs spent in the United States was nearly $9.3 billion dollars and most systems have no interoperability,” said AMCHART CEO Aman Quadri. “The VA recently spent nearly $1.6 billion dollars and their system is still not working. The problem is that EHR companies do not want to cooperate with other systems to allow for information sharing and takes the ability away from patients for easy access to information that could help in their care.”
Interoperability through blockchain could make EHRs more organized and more accessible. This could greatly reduce the need for duplicate data entry that many physicians say is reducing their productivity and making their jobs more difficult.
We hope you found this promoted post as informative & entertaining as we did!