Blockchain know-how has began getting consideration by well being IT leaders and holds a lot promise.
“Whereas blockchain know-how isn’t a panacea for knowledge standardization or system integration challenges, it does provide a promising new distributed framework to amplify and help integration of healthcare info throughout a spread of makes use of and stakeholders,” consulting firm Deloitte explained. “It addresses a number of present ache factors and permits a system that’s extra environment friendly, disintermediated and safe.”
In January, healthcare blockchain know-how and companies firm Avaneer Well being introduced new backing from a number of blue-chip healthcare organizations, who’re committing $50 million in seed funding to the Avaneer Well being community.
The new funding comes from founding community contributors together with Aetna, Anthem, Cleveland Clinic, Well being Care Service Company, PNC Monetary and Sentara Healthcare. The community, based by these contributors and others in 2021, is constructed utilizing blockchain know-how and makes use of HL7’s FHIR specification to increase knowledge entry throughout healthcare organizations, with a concentrate on payer-to-payer knowledge trade, eligibility and prior authorization.
Healthcare IT Information spoke with Stuart Hanson, CEO of Avaneer Well being, to speak about healthcare’s hesitancy to undertake blockchain, use circumstances for blockchain in healthcare, challenges for blockchain in healthcare and what could come up from blockchain in 2022.
Q. What explains the hesitancy by healthcare organizations in adopting blockchain? How can that hesitancy be overcome?
A. I keep in mind when quite a few healthcare organizations started to discover the potential of blockchain in 2018 and 2019. Many massive tech organizations recognized methods to make use of blockchain and began tasks, and innovation groups at well being programs and payers constructed groups to concentrate on the potential of blockchain.
However a lot of these initiatives have since been deserted. It seems to me that whereas there have been many good concepts and one of the best of intentions, one problem particularly could have been very tough to beat: blockchain isn’t a plug-and-play know-how.
It is also not a silver bullet as a standalone know-how answer and even enabler. Blockchain isn’t an app that may be simply put in neither is it a platform that may be added to the tech stack. So as to use blockchain successfully, complete processes have to alter, workflows must evolve, tech stacks should be tailored to leverage the actual strengths of the aptitude, and mindsets on the right way to function the enterprise should shift dramatically.
This degree of change is clearly not straightforward to realize throughout massive organizations, particularly in an business with a lot present complexity in each scientific and administrative use circumstances.
The hesitancy to undertake blockchain could be overcome by organizations which are prepared to maneuver past experiments by adapting processes and tech stacks to capitalize on the potential of blockchain. Over the previous two years, organizations like IBM and PNC Financial institution have been collaborating with firms that normally compete towards one another – Anthem, Aetna, HCSC, Cleveland Clinic and Sentara Healthcare – to design the governance construction wanted to create a group and healthcare community that’s blockchain-enabled.
As a result of a number of organizations are working collectively towards a typical objective, there’s an elevated probability of success. Extra typically in healthcare, we see a single tech firm come out with a good suggestion and attempt to execute by itself.
However with blockchain, in its core, it’s based in group, togetherness, openness and collaboration. So the business wants extra organizations to decide to altering their general mindsets to replicate these values with the intention to scale the adoption of blockchain, which might unlock vital worth of underlying know-how investments which have been made over the past decade.
Q. What are some frequent use circumstances of blockchain in healthcare?
A. Presently, the commonest use circumstances of blockchain in healthcare leverage sensible contracts capabilities for medical provide chain, well being credential and vaccination validation, supplier credentialing, affected person knowledge safety, and life sciences scientific study-related knowledge.
These are usually easy use circumstances that may leverage the distributed ledger performance of blockchain know-how to resolve issues. I see the business transferring towards extra complicated use circumstances past what’s frequent right this moment.
There’s a vital alternative for simplifying a few of the core and repetitive administrative-related use circumstances in healthcare like eligibility, prior authorization, coordination of advantages, claims standing and a myriad of interoperable interactions between payers, suppliers and monetary establishments.
Moreover, a blockchain-enabled community might emerge for a trusted ecosystem to allow a market of kinds, on which builders might deploy options that profit from accessing permissioned knowledge or collaborating within the healthcare ecosystem.
Q. What’s it particularly about blockchain that makes it so interesting to different industries however difficult for healthcare? Why has it labored so properly with cryptocurrency and NFTs however not healthcare?
A. With its decentralized and “zero belief” nature, blockchain know-how gives advantages to quite a lot of companies throughout a number of industries. Maybe one among blockchain’s best traits is that it supplies an unprecedented degree of transparency and openness so that every participant is held accountable and independently accountable to behave with integrity towards its group and prospects.
Blockchain know-how additionally will increase effectivity by eradicating the necessity for a intermediary or single arbiter of belief. For instance, in sure industries resembling monetary companies, blockchain facilitates sooner transactions by permitting P2P cross-border transfers with a digital forex. In actual property, property administration processes are made extra environment friendly with a unified system of possession data, and sensible contracts that automate tenant-landlord agreements.
Blockchain additionally is way safer than different report protecting programs as a result of every new transaction is encrypted and linked to the earlier transaction, offering a degree of permanency. As soon as a transaction is dedicated to the chain, it can’t be deleted.
You possibly can solely add to the chain through a brand new block. Subsequently, blockchains create a historic, linear report of occasions or transactions that can not be later altered. This immutable and incorruptible nature of blockchain makes it secure from falsified info and hacks, in the end making it interesting to a number of industries.
As well as, many individuals proceed to conflate blockchain with cryptocurrencies. There are vital variations between the potential applicability of blockchain in healthcare than the early adoption in areas like NFTs and crypto.
First, NFTs and crypto began a lot earlier and the primary use case was Bitcoin and later Ethereum. It took Bitcoin and Ethereum a few years to get the place they’re right this moment. Second, these ecosystems had been created from scratch, we won’t simply hit the reset button in healthcare and create new tech stacks. We have to assist undertake the brand new know-how capabilities in a manner that helps each unlock the know-how investments which have been made – like in EHR programs – and in addition assist the business rework to a extra fluid ecosystem.
Greenfield or “clear slate” creation typically is far simpler than reimagining present programs – particularly at scale – for core enterprise processes. The processes must proceed operating whereas the brand new ones are created, which is way more costly for the innovators and takes plenty of braveness and dedication to the imaginative and prescient of serving to folks from the early adopter organizations.
Third, healthcare requires a hybrid know-how stack as a result of not each facet of core processes lends itself to sensible contracts. In truth, there are vital knowledge obstacles, sensible knowledge safety obstacles in healthcare, to guard confidential and delicate healthcare knowledge. This knowledge cannot – and should not – be propagated and distributed broadly throughout varied blockchain nodes.
As a substitute, this know-how can be utilized to assist index the complicated business sources of information throughout a community and make this knowledge extra fluid and, due to this fact, useful. In different phrases, we have to determine a fragile stability between blockchain and different know-how elements throughout the stack with the intention to protect the important thing worth added from blockchain whereas making all the system sturdy and optimized for the healthcare use circumstances.
The barrier to widespread adoption in healthcare is definitely the identical barrier that initially slowed adoption with cryptocurrency and NFTs: we have to shift our mindset and alter our processes.
As soon as stakeholders in healthcare are prepared to assume otherwise about how healthcare connects and establish methods to work collectively to create new processes that work for all concerned whereas creating belief, then adoption will enhance, simply because it has in different industries because of the aforementioned causes.
Q. Is the blockchain business engaged on something that will enhance adoption in healthcare this yr?
A. I do know that the healthcare business is working towards methods to actually leverage blockchain as a know-how, very similar to monetary companies and fintechs have been doing for the previous handful of years. So, I wholeheartedly consider that healthcare is poised to start adopting blockchain way more meaningfully over the subsequent 1-3 years.
For instance, our nationwide, blockchain-enabled healthcare community is launching. It goals to get rid of the necessity for point-to-point connectivity by creating an atmosphere of “join as soon as to many.” Additionally, this blockchain-enabled community is deliberate to operate as a verifiable belief layer for joint processes between contributors on the community.
Due to that agreed, verifiable belief operate, counter-party threat of information sharing must be considerably lowered. Every participant on the blockchain will “know,” with an authorized verification, that the opposite contributors are “good actors” and comply with work together with one another utilizing robotically enforced requirements.
No different intermediary knowledge processing entity is required to ensure the integrity of the information or transaction. As well as, the information that strikes throughout this new community is not going to be manipulated or saved centrally.
The information will merely transfer and be seen or accessible throughout this community of belief, enabling new insights, transparency and consumer-friendly entry. Solely as soon as all of the contributors can confirm belief towards the others in how, why and when they may work together, does actually steady dynamic knowledge updates and sharing turn into potential. That is the imaginative and prescient for the longer term state I envision for all healthcare organizations.