Blockchain “Potential Value” in the Healthcare Industry

BC in HC

Visualize the Healthcare ecosystem comprising of patients, payers, providers, pharma/bio majors, and medical device companies. The Blockchain Technology combined with other relevant digital forces can augment the right set of capabilities in the Healthcare Ecosystem. The blockchain technology alongside Electronic Health Records, IMoT (Internet of Medical Things), Healthbots, AI/ML, Cloud and Analytics can create the capability foundation for the healthcare industry.  The blockchain bundled capability engine thereby enables the four drivers as described below.

  • Consumerization: Transforming from wholesale to retail healthcare. The patient or consumer now can expect the same experience in healthcare like in all other parts of their “consumer life.” Blockchain can enable a radical change in driving patients to take advantage of connected technologies, social tools, and information activities in their own health and that extends further into the broader marketplace.
  • Personalization: Healthcare industry has historically treated patients en masse. But the move from the group to the individual is inevitable now. Blockchain empowers health players to build loyal relationships with consumers offering more choices.
  • Diagnosis & treatments: Blockchain can create a single source of medical truth of patient that can’t be tampered making the doctors better at their jobs – quicker, more accurate, and fact-based expediting the quality of diagnosis and treatment.
  • Communications: Enabling doctor’s effective and easy communication with patients for improvising care coordination is another pertinent role of blockchain technology in healthcare.

The above drivers collectively are positioned to deliver the following outcomes to healthcare ecosystem.

  • Patients: Improved experience with better care coordination
  • Payers: Shift from B2B to B2B2C models
  • Providers/ISVs: Better usability enabling on-the-go services and health predictability

To better contextualize Blockchain Technology in Healthcare ecosystems, the relevance of technology for Patients, Payers, and Providers is discussed below.

I. Blockchain prominence for Patients:

Patients can benefit from improved experience from better health coordination. With blockchain technology, patient health records can be cryptographically secured and shared among healthcare stakeholders, increasing interoperability in the ecosystem. Use cases for blockchain are getting started with projects that reduce duplicative work but eventually shift to a system where the patient’s control access rights to their data. The following is one of the paths of evolution of blockchain in healthcare,

  • In short term it is more of a closed consortia, PoCs, managing providers information, bringing drug supply chain on the blockchain, but not really porting patient data on the blockchain.
  • In the medium term, systems can scale with permission of stakeholders and handle some patient data. Applications include claims management, payments, and prior authorization, health information exchange & research data, and trial design data etc.
  • But over a long term, a patient-driven blockchain system with master health records and access rights in the hands of patients is a definite possibility.

To design a robust blockchain solution, the architecture should store and scale voluminous transactions, urgent data, and more on a blockchain, while larger data storage needs could be met by private repositories. The bundled On-Chain and Off-Chain solutions can be built to solving both scalability and data sensitivity needs. A typical blockchain solution for healthcare patients’ data can be described as follows.

Data is generated about a patient, a doctor’s visit occurs etc. Transactions are recorded on a public, view-able blockchain, which also designates the location of the data. The data is stored “Off-chain” in private data repositories. Patients give a third-party access to their records via public/private keys. Data is located, decrypted, and retired from storage on-demand.

Blockchain could bring patients to the center of the healthcare ecosystem by giving them the power over one of their most valuable resources – data

II. Blockchain driven Improvements for Payers:

The blockchain is driving the transformation in Payers and/or Health Insurance space to reimagine business models progressing from BB to B2B2C channels. As per the analyst reports, 5 to 7% of claims are denied due to inaccurate or lack of information. Imagine blockchain technology offering an opportunity to automate the claim process and simplify the administrative processes to reduce transaction costs and minimizing frauds.

How Blockchain technology does this is by leveraging the consensus with smart contracts, maintaining a benefits database, determining patient insurance for self-execution with SOPs driving terms and conditions. This will potentially bring in a discipline of pay for outcomes and incentive-based behavioral health programs that offer peer-to-peer insurance models. Imagine a day where patients have a peer-reviewed and/or a peer-adjusted claims system.

III. Blockchain-based Collaboration for Providers:

Healthcare providers could be hospitals, medical device companies, pharma or bio majors and many more. Let us examine the following opportunities.

  • What if blockchain enables a multi-fold increase in medical device makers ability to bring their devices onto a medical IoT platform solving the current data privacy and security concerns? Blockchain can enforce medical device identity management by promoting IMoT and as well cryptography techniques can offer an additional layer of trust to minimize cybersecurity threats for medical devices. Blockchain also ensures patient privacy by proving secure and selective access to their health data.
  • Serialization and counterfeiting are few of critical issues pharma supply chain faces today. It is a multi-billion dollar problem to solve. Blockchain ability to create a chain-of-custody log of a pharma value chain can enable drug manufacturers to track each step of the supply chain at the source by raw martial or constituents and their origins. Blockchain also offers the technological feasibility to automate serialization process across the pharma supply chains

Blockchain technology has the potential to exponentially add value to the healthcare ecosystem offering significant cost savings, enforcing privacy and security, creating a chain of custody for pharma value chain, improving collaboration, and simplifying the claims processing.

I welcome further discussions on this topic via email kishor.akshinthala@gmail.com.

Refer to related blog posts below:

https://akshinthalakk.com/2018/02/10/counterfeit-combating-with-blockchain-technology-2/

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