Blockchain in Health Care – Forecasts and Opportunities

From medical records to the pharmaceutical supply chain to smart contracts for payment distribution, there are plenty of opportunities to leverage blockchain technology in healthcare.

Blockchain technology has the potential to transform health care, placing the patient at the center of the health care ecosystem and increasing the security, privacy, and interoperability of health data. This technology could provide a new model for health information exchanges (HIE) by making electronic medical records more efficient, disintermediated, and secure. While it is not a panacea, this new, rapidly evolving field provides fertile ground for experimentation, investment, and proof-of-concept testing.​

How blockchain can provide opportunities for health care?

​A blockchain powered health information exchange could unlock the true value of interoperability. Blockchain-based systems have the potential to reduce or eliminate the friction and costs of current intermediaries.

The promise of blockchain has widespread implications for stakeholders in the health care ecosystem. Capitalizing on this technology has the potential to connect fragmented systems to generate insights and to better assess the value of care. In the long term, a nationwide blockchain network for electronic medical records may improve efficiencies and support better health outcomes for patients.

In such a way blockchain technology presents numerous opportunities for health care; however, it is not fully mature today nor a panacea that can be immediately applied. Several technical, organizational, and behavioral economics challenges must be addressed before a health care blockchain can be adopted by organizations nationwide.

Shaping the blockchain future

Blockchain technology creates unique opportunities to reduce complexity, enable trustless collaboration, and create secure and immutable information. HHS is right to track this rapidly evolving field to identify trends and sense areas where government support may be needed for the technology to realize its full potential in health care. To shape blockchain’s future, HHS should consider mapping and convening the blockchain ecosystem, establishing a blockchain framework to coordinate early-adopters, and supporting a consortium for dialogue and discovery.​

While it may be difficult to hear, healthcare is a business. When making purchasing decisions, for-profit and not-for-profit healthcare companies need to use the same logic every firm does, by asking, “How will this product bring efficiency or savings?”

The three companies below brought their products to market by focusing on an immediate, existing need in healthcare that had an existing business model opportunity.

 

The MediLedger Project

Led by The LinkLab and Chronicled, the MediLedger Project kicked off in 2017, successfully bringing competing pharmaceutical manufacturers and wholesalers to the same table. Together, they designed and implemented a process for using blockchain technology to improve the track-and-trace capabilities for prescription medicine.

Built to support the requirements of the U.S. Drug Supply Chain Security Act (DSCSA), MediLedger also outlines steps to build an electronic, interoperable system to identify and trace certain prescription drugs, meaning it successfully met not just the law, but the operational needs of industry.

Two key takeaways: the vision for the industry is an open system architecture, with nodes operated by a variety of key companies in the industry – supply chain participants, service providers for the industry and trusted technology companies.

To make this open network happen, those involved were able to develop a blockchain solution that allows full privacy, no leakage of business intelligence, while still allowing the capability of drug verification and provenance reporting.

The working group will continue to develop the vision and governance for such an industry platform as well as launch a commercial solution. They will continue to explore how such a platform could transform the pharmaceutical supply chain.

 

SimplyVital Health

Launched in February 2017, we started with what we considered a practical implementation of blockchain: an audit trail.

Our product, ConnectingCare brings providers together from different clinical organizations onto the same platform, where they can view the same data for shared patients. Financial and clinical algorithms powered by AI provide actionable strategic opportunities for all users.

Together, providers work to drive down the cost of care, which means providers are paid for working together and for results. Because reimbursement depends on the ability to prove they worked together, the immutable audit trail provides extra upside for the users.

Now with a track record of credibility, we are building Health Nexus: the blockchain infrastructure and protocol we hope will be safely adoptable by healthcare. A fork of ethereum, the offering combines a new validation and governance protocol focusing on HIPAA compliance and a key pair system built into the protocol for safe data sharing.

Up first is linking and growing ConnectingCare, and then developing healthcare data marketplace, which is the most requested feature by our community.

 

Robomed Network

Robomed Network is a decentralized medical network designed to provide the most effective medical care. The project’s uniqueness lies in connecting healthcare service providers and patients, based on a smart contract, the value criteria of which are the clinical pathways.

This particular breakthrough concept of focusing on patient outcomes is brand new to the healthcare market. In other words, Robomed Network is the first system where the patient pays for the result and not the medical process itself.

Launched first in Russia and Dubai, Robomed boasts nearly 9,000 patients, 30,500 services and nearly $2 million worth of services. As the healthcare market continues to shift to value-based care (payment for results instead of payment for number of procedures), solutions such as Robomed that bridge the gap between provider and patient, will continue to gain traction.

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