The Benefits of Harnessing the Power of Blockchain in Healthcare

The Benefits of Harnessing the Power of Blockchain in Healthcare

Blockchain is not just about cryptocurrencies and bitcoin. It is about technology which makes it possible to record digital events, creating immutable and distributable data which is secure from any fraudulent manipulation and data breach threats.

Hospitals today are turning to technology to change the way they work, with more efficient healthcare record systems, wearable devices, and medical examination systems implementing artificial intelligence and cryptography.

Blockchain technology, therefore, has interesting use cases in the healthcare domain. As users share the data between networked database systems, a blockchain’s decentralized register of ownership stores all details, starting from the formation of each data block. Its inner SHA256 calculator generates a unique cryptographic hash every time a modification is made to the data, helping to identify the owner of a data block at any time. This fully protected data sharing method is obviously very useful in managing transactions and records in various healthcare systems.

Among other things, blockchain can help in managing patient data and in ensuring drug security in clinical trials and drug traceability. Let’s discuss some of the business and operating model opportunities offered by blockchain for the healthcare industry.

  • Health information exchanges powered by blockchain could help realize the true value of interoperability and integration for disparate health IT systems. Benefits of such HIE’s include reduced costs of current intermediaries, improving efficiencies, and supporting better health outcomes for patients.
  • Irrespective of the volumes of data handled, hospitals can process and store patient data and be assured of data provenance and integrity with blockchain. This protection would extend to patient health information (PHI), electronic health records, data collected from IoT devices (Internet of Things) or monitoring systems and medical insurance claims. When patients need to share their medical records with third parties, each PHI block gets a hash which includes the patient’s ID. Using an API, covered entities receive the necessary information through full or partial access. If the patient is not able to provide or withhold such access, the eligibility to do so may be vested with a reliable third party.
  • Blockchain eliminates the need for a central administrator, offering access security, scalability, and data privacy. It can validate a clinicians’ credentials, control access to patients’ records, secure the medical supply chain and verify clinical tests, without any fear of patient data being mismatched or duplicated.
  • Healthcare data gets anchored to the public blockchain, enabling data integrity to be proven with data timestamps; to authenticate the PHI or clinical research result integrity, allow medical audits and ensure regulatory compliance. Its secure information sharing methods ensure data safety even as healthcare providers and their covered entities provide appropriate medical services.
  • Blockchain does not allow intermediation in data sharing and protects data with more than ordinary encryption, establishing higher levels of data safety when managing insurance claims, PHI, and medical records.
  • Counterfeit drugs are the bane of existence for many in developing countries, while causing losses of over $200 billion to genuine pharma companies in US alone. Timestamped and immutable transactions using blockchain could help track a medicine from the manufacturer to retail and offer the assurance of authenticity and quality needed. It can also restrict access to verified drug dealers and help in detecting all the fraudulent drug dealers.
  • All the statistics, test results, quality reports, etc. generated and recorded during a clinical trial can be made transparent and tamper-free as the whole outcome of the research gets registered and preserved securely in the system.

It is estimated that the use of blockchain in healthcare would grow at a CAGR of 63.85% from 2018 to 2025 and solve all the issues it currently faces with the non-standardized data silos and healthcare data interoperability. With its secure and reliable method of recording, storing, and sharing sensitive data, blockchain can also help prevent data breaches in the healthcare industry. According to a report by BIS research, by 2025, the healthcare industry stands to save up to $100 billion per year by 2025 in data breach-related costs, IT costs, operations costs, support function and personnel costs, counterfeit-related frauds and insurance frauds by turning to blockchain technology. This does not even look at the benefits offered by the snowballing effects of innovation using blockchain.

Key Insights from CMS Administrator Seema Verma at HIMSS 2019

Key Insights from CMS Administrator Seema Verma at HIMSS 2019

For the thousands among us who make the annual trip to HIMSS, it’s not just about business opportunities and networking. It’s also about keeping up with the industry’s dynamic nature, and to learn about new and innovative approaches to deal with the realities of healthcare IT, and to gain a clear insight into regulatory trends and requirements. It’s for establishing a strategic direction to our own endeavors as champions of health IT.

From proposed new rulings on providing easier access to patient data to health system interoperability which impacts healthcare systems, providers, and innovators, let’s look at the key insights from CMS administrator Seema Verma at HIMSS 2019 –

  • Patient data belongs to patients only and hospitals shouldn’t have to seek permission from EHR vendors to use their own data. To quote the CMS Administrator herself, “So let me be clear. The idea that patient data belongs to providers or vendors is an epic misunderstanding. Patient data belongs to patients.”
  • Information blocking is a ‘thing of the past’ and will not be tolerated nor will excuses in the matter be accepted. All players need to stop blaming someone else when problems related to health data sharing come up and should stop feigning innocence. Everyone should aim to have the healthcare system working and working well.
  • CMS will focus on payers to see that claims data is incorporated into the patient record to help improve care and outcomes. By liberating claims data for providers, patients, and innovators and infusing it into patient records, we begin a digital data revolution which could power research efforts to help develop new cures and treatments. Providers can use claims data to understand someone’s health issues better to make better decisions, enhance safety by predicting future healthcare events, and avoid duplication.
  • To improve the discharge process for patients and their care teams and enhance transitions in patient care, new proposals aim to improve the patient and provider experience through data sharing and electronic notification capabilities. It will be made mandatory for hospitals to electronically notify providers and the patient’s care team when a patient is admitted, discharged or transferred, as a condition of Medicare participation.
  • Verma proposed to put the weight of CMS behind patient record matching because it is critical to resolve issues with data-sharing. She wants everyone to visualize a future when health data would include the entire HIPAA-designated data record set to deliver new possibilities for healthcare. The combined data of underlying databases will power the health system, by using APIs and other technologies, to create a single patient record using data from disparate sources.
  • CMS also envisages a future when the data enables physicians and health systems to tools like artificial intelligence and machine learning to help interpret the information to provide high quality, evidence-based, cost-effective care. The tools that are used at point of care will be user-friendly for clinicians. They give access to the right data for the right person when they need it. Technology should power the healthcare system, not burden it.
  • Verma expects to have data shared across the spectrum of the entire healthcare delivery system, in a scalable model which keeps healthcare data flowing freely across the entire healthcare system.

In a healthcare environment with multiple disparate systems, Dapasoft can help you build an interoperable, seamless patient-focused health IT system which puts patients first. This strategy has helped our clients to get on a path of innovation to promote future advancements in healthcare through care-collaboration and more personalized healthcare. That really sums up our vision for healthcare data. In fact, it’s our raison d’etre. Do write in to talk to us about how Dapasoft can help you achieve healthcare data interoperability and transparency.