• Blockchain
  • Data accuracy: another use case for blockchain

    As blockchain technology continues to excite the healthcare industry with opportunities for better access to healthcare data, data security and efficiency, 5 companies have banded together to explore another use case for it. 

    Many managed care organisations, health systems, physicians, and other healthcare stakeholders currently maintain separate copies of healthcare provider data.  Reconciling differences in this data can be a time-consuming and expensive processes.  Blockchain could help bring down administrative costs by ensuring data is complete and accurate across all parties.

    Humana, MultiPlan, Optum, Quest Diagnostics and UnitedHealthcare recently announced a cooperative pilot program to use blockchain technology to share healthcare provider data across organisations.  This aims to improve accuracy, streamline administrative activities and improve access to care. It will also examine whether sharing healthcare provider data inputs and changes made by parties across a blockchain can reduce operational costs and improve data quality. 

    With technology's rapid advances, it's critical that African countries make room for these types of emerging opportunities in their eHealth strategies. Along with rigorous prospective assessments to ensure viability and sustainability.

  • An analytical view of Blockchain aids understanding

    Paradigm shifts are regularly sought after by information and ICT initiatives. As a set of ideas, assumptions, and values that can help to live and see the world, a paradigm doesn’t seem easy to shift. In The Business Blockchain, published by Wiley, William Mougayar describes how Blockchain’s a paradigm shift. 

    It’s part of a sequence of paradigm shifts of the Internet, the World Wide Web, and now Blockchain. He’s firm that Blockchain’s different to all that’s originated before. It’s also tricky to understand, with a clear grasp of its philosophy essential to comprehend its technical components.

    Blockchain has six enablers, programmable: 

    AssetsTrustOwnershipMoneyIdentityContracts.

    Creating ATOMIC, Mougayar delves well into each of these. This delving and diving’s a characteristic of the book. It’s the knowledge and insights that these provide ensure it’s not a superficial overview or description. Examples are the explanation of the set of basic principles and the emphasis on Blockchain’s decentralisation features.

    Wynton Marsalis, the jazz trumpeter said to understand art, you must come to art. Art will not come to you. This resonates with Blockchain. Mougayar’s book’s essential to begin the journey. Africa’s health systems need to follow the tricky route to ensure strategic opportunities are not lost. 

  • Healthcare enters the blockchain ecosystem

    Over the last few years, healthcare has seen a record number of security breaches involving healthcare data.  This has prompted several start-ups to realise the work that needs to be done on the cyber-security front to make healthcare data secure.  Blockchain offers one potential solution to this challenge. Other solutions offered by blockchain include interoperability and the ability to connect data silos for more seamless systems and improved patient safety.

    SimplyVital Health is one of those start-ups experimenting with blockchain technology to give the healthcare industry a facelift. The company has developed a decentralised open-source protocol that will enable frictional-less sharing of healthcare data.  Their Health Nexus is a public-permissioned blockchain. It provides a platform to build advanced healthcare applications while maintaining the privacy and security required in the healthcare industry. 

    The developer tools on the Health Nexus are open source and available for free.  Members are able to build and deploy distributed apps utilising the blockchain protocol for transactions, identity and smart contracts, and a distributed hash table (DHT) for data storage, managed by a governance system. This will allow developers to create valuable solutions for pharmacies, healthcare providers, insurers, clinical researchers or patients.  

    Blockchain is certainly paving opportunities for new business models in healthcare.  The trajectory it will follow in the coming years, however, is an unmapped terrain waiting to be explored.  The road ahead for blockchain and healthcare will also require substantial intra-industry cooperation as well as dialogues between the public and private sectors regarding standards and regulatory frameworks.

     

  • Why blockchain may be the future of healthcare

    The blockchain revolution has made its way to the healthcare industry.  If you haven’t heard about it yet, blockchain is a distributed system which records and stores transaction records.  Think of it as a database which stores information.  The main difference is that the data is located in a network of personal computers called nodes where there is no central administrator, such as a government or bank controlling the data.

    On permission-less blockchains, all parties can view all records. On permissioned blockchains, privacy can be maintained by agreement about which parties can view which transactions and where, masking the identity of the party. 

    Blockchain principles were first applied in the financial world as the technology that allowed Bitcoin to operate.  It has applications for many industries and more promisingly for healthcare. 

    This disruptive innovation would be able to solve many of the issues that plague healthcare today, while enjoying unprecedented security benefits because records are spread across a network of replicated databases that are always in sync.  

    A common database of health information can facilitate better sharing of research and evidence-based practices.  It would allow healthcare professionals to access patient records no matter what electronic record system they used and,  even improve supply chain management to prevent resource deficits.

    Blockchain won’t be a cure-all for the industry today, but it would certainly be a step in the right direction.