Though not but broadly applied in healthcare, blockchain expertise has great potential and may very well be transformational by offering elevated safety, transparency and integrity.
Nevertheless, some widespread myths round blockchain could also be slowing its acceptance.
Kali Durgampudi is chief expertise officer at Zelis, a healthcare funds firm. He’s a blockchain skilled, which is why Healthcare IT Information sat down with him – to debate how blockchain can be utilized in healthcare, these cussed myths and blockchain’s transformational potential within the business.
Q. What are the first use circumstances for blockchain in healthcare?
A. A few of the greatest points we’ve got in healthcare are privateness and information safety. Cyber-risk continues to develop exponentially because the business strikes towards digitizing and eliminating archaic paper-based processes.
Blockchain expertise has the potential to alleviate many of those issues. For individuals who usually are not aware of it, blockchain is actually a system of monitoring and recording data. “Blocks” of knowledge, or encrypted data, are broadly distributed throughout a peer-to-peer community.
Any time the knowledge is modified or shared, a brand new block is created to doc the transaction. These blocks are strung collectively to create an impenetrable chain. Because the data can’t be modified or copied, blockchain expertise vastly reduces safety dangers, giving hospital and healthcare IT organizations a a lot stronger line of protection in opposition to cybercriminals.
With cyberattacks changing into increasingly more frequent, implementing this expertise will develop into important to defending delicate affected person and monetary information. Sooner or later, we are going to look again and ask why we did not implement blockchain expertise sooner.
One other space the place blockchain can play a pivotal position is in healthcare funds. Shockingly, a whole lot of healthcare communications and lots of fee transactions nonetheless happen through mail and paper checks. Blockchain may also help expedite monetary transactions between payers, suppliers and members.
For instance, many payers and suppliers are hesitant to share data over electronic mail as a result of there isn’t any proof of supply or receipt. An electronic mail can simply be misplaced in a spam folder, muddling and delaying the fee course of for all events concerned.
But blockchain expertise affords a means to offer never-before-seen transparency for these transactions. Blockchain offers each payers and suppliers with full visibility into the whole lifecycle of a declare, from the affected person registering on the entrance desk to disputing a value to sending an evidence of advantages.
Along with explaining healthcare prices and offering transparency into the method, blockchain is good for exchanging healthcare funds, given the safe nature of the expertise and its skill to facilitate sooner transactions.
At present, there are a whole lot of financial institution checks nonetheless getting used within the medical billing world. Not solely does this lead to pointless postage and printing prices, nevertheless it additionally requires extra administrative time to course of the checks, slowing down each communication between payers and suppliers and precise fee.
By leveraging digital transactions by blockchain, funds shall be considerably faster, safe and traceable.
Q. What are a number of the myths that persist about blockchain in healthcare?
A. There’s a whole lot of confusion surrounding blockchain since it’s a comparatively new expertise that has not been broadly applied. The confusion – that blockchain and bitcoin are the identical – doubtless stems from blockchain’s affiliation with bitcoin and cryptocurrency.
The truth is, bitcoin is a digital forex that was invented to function exterior of any singular financial institution of a authorities entity. It’s a cryptocurrency that operates by blockchain expertise, which is why the 2 are sometimes related and confused.
One other delusion is that blockchain can solely be used for cryptocurrency. Utilizing blockchain and cryptocurrency collectively is a perfect pairing, given the safe and traceable nature of the expertise.
Nevertheless, blockchain should not be restricted to cryptocurrency, and even banking and finance. Blockchain basically serves as a digital ledger, which can be utilized in any variety of industries to securely monitor data and shield in opposition to fraud, together with healthcare, actual property, leisure, transport and extra.
As a result of lack of expertise round blockchain, there are also some preconceived notions that it’s considerably nefarious and used principally by “crypto-criminals.” But blockchain inherently is open and traceable, with most transactions being seen to the general public.
There isn’t a darkish nook for cybercriminals to lurk. As soon as the concern of the unknown begins to dissipate and blockchain turns into extra broadly understood and adopted, a few of these myths shall be overshadowed by the advantages for companies and shoppers.
Q. You say blockchain expertise has great potential to be transformational for healthcare. How so?
A. Blockchain expertise has the potential to remodel healthcare by offering elevated safety, transparency and integrity. It will possibly present extra safety to fight one of many greatest points in healthcare – fraud. But, as an business that’s notoriously gradual to undertake new expertise, we’re doubtless nonetheless years away from the healthcare business broadly adopting blockchain expertise.
There is also quite a lot of different roadblocks standing in the best way of blockchain implementation. Blockchain is a very new kind of expertise – you may’t simply go to a blockchain webpage and begin making transactions. It wants new purposes and a very new spine system, which should be constructed from scratch.
In an business that’s nonetheless battling interoperability and the transition to digital well being information, this sort of technological endeavor is not any small process. Not solely will blockchain be transformational for its potential to positively influence healthcare, nevertheless it additionally shall be transformational from a expertise standpoint as it’ll create a very new kind of technological infrastructure for these organizations.
We nonetheless have a protracted approach to go; nevertheless, we’re on our means towards leveraging blockchain expertise in healthcare. Just like how the pandemic acted as an sudden catalyst for quickly standing up and adopting telemedicine, a serious safety breach may act as an industrywide propellant for adoption.
Moreover, as soon as extra APIs are constructed out and the expertise is extra user-friendly and accessible, blockchain will develop into extra accepted and applied.
Q. What can healthcare CIOs enthusiastic about leaping into blockchain do to get to higher know the expertise?
A. Healthcare CIOs enthusiastic about leaping into blockchain needs to be monitoring for a way different industries are leveraging this expertise to study what sorts of implementations are working effectively and what varieties usually are not.
Maintaining a tally of a number of the main blockchain gamers, resembling Google and Microsoft Net Providers, additionally shall be useful for CIOs hoping to study extra concerning the expertise and innovation round it.