Blockchain In Healthcare: The ‘revenue Cycle Management’ Scenario
With healthcare costs rising, hospital revenue cycle management professionals can be left with hundreds of thousands, if not millions of dollars in unpaid medical expenses. Revenue cycle technology is vital to organizations looking to improve their patient payment processes.
St. Joseph Health plans to use blockchain technology with its Lumedic end-to-end revenue cycle management platform for distributed ledger technology, smart contracts, and machine learning.Payers and providers connecting to Lumedics network can share trusted information and collaborate on integrated business processes. Their goal is to reduce inefficiencies in the healthcare system.
Dr. Rhonda Medows, president of population health of Providence St. Joseph Health and CEO of Ayin Health Solutions, said.
By disrupting these often cumbersome processes ourselves, we strive to lower administrative costs for both parties while getting a deeper insight into the financial experience of patients and the ways we can simplify the process for them,
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Furthermore, the adoption of the blockchain in healthcare could save the healthcare industry up to $100-$150 billion per year by 2025 in data breach-related costs, IT costs, operations costs, support function costs, and personnel costs, and through a reduction in frauds and counterfeit products.
Here is how the healthcare industry can benefit from the blockchain.
Let’s start with an infographic that highlights the main ideas in this article:
Main Features Of The Blockchain Technology Helping The Healthcare Industry
Blockchain has a wide range of applications and uses in healthcare. The ledger technology facilitates the secure transfer of patient medical records, manages the medicine supply chain, and helps healthcare researchers unlock genetic code.
DATA SECURITY: Keeping our important medical data safe and secure is the most popular blockchain healthcare application at the moment, which isn’t surprising. Security is a major issue in the healthcare industry.
PRIVACY ENFORCEMENT: Additionally, while blockchain is transparent it is also private, concealing the identity of any individual with complex and secure codes that can protect the sensitivity of medical data.
INFORMATION SHARING AND PERSONALIZATION PLANS: The decentralized nature of the technology also allows patients, doctors, and healthcare providers to share the same information quickly and safely. The decentralized nature of the technology creates one ecosystem of patient data that can be quickly and efficiently referenced by doctors, hospitals, pharmacists, and anyone else involved in treatment. In this way, the blockchain can lead to faster diagnoses and personalized care plans.
Figure 3. Medical errors as percentage of annual deaths . Preventing them through a more efficient sharing of data is of paramount importance for a substantial improvement in medical treatments outcomes.
Figure 4. Blockchain-based healthcare data management system between multiple stakeholders within a healthcare ecosystem
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How Blockchain Will Solve Healthcare Issues
Blockchain can completely change the healthcare system. It can help the healthcare industry overcome the challenges that it is going through. For example, it can help improve universal access, integrity, security, traceability, and interoperability. Blockchain healthcare applications hold the key to improving the current healthcare condition.
With blockchain, multiple healthcare systems can come together and exchange data with each other, thanks to the distributed framework that it has to offer. So, which challenges blockchain can solve? Lets list them below.
How Will It Affect Costs In Healthcare
The cost-effectiveness depends on a number of factors, including the use case applied, the size and demographics of the implementing organizations, and the requirements of the consortium or governance model. Adoption may potentially bring both potential costs and savings.
Some current solutions simplify the supply chain and administrative processes in healthcare, such as streamlining prior authorization, which may decrease costs. Ultimately, organizations can expect some added technology costs that are prevalent in the adoption of any new technology or solution, including implementing workforce training and change management requirements.
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What Is Blockchain And How Can It Provide Opportunities For Health Care
A blockchain powered health information exchange could unlock the true value of interoperability. Blockchain-based systems have the potential to reduce or eliminate the friction and costs of current intermediaries.
The promise of blockchain has widespread implications for stakeholders in the health care ecosystem. Capitalizing on this technology has the potential to connect fragmented systems to generate insights and to better assess the value of care. In the long term, a nationwide blockchain network for electronic medical records may improve efficiencies and support better health outcomes for patients.
What is blockchain?
At its core, blockchain is a distributed system recording and storing transaction records. More specifically, blockchain is a shared, immutable record of peer-to-peer transactions built from linked transaction blocks and stored in a digital ledger. Blockchain relies on established cryptographic techniques to allow each participant in a network to interact , without preexisting trust between the parties. In a blockchain system, there is no central authority instead, transaction records are stored and distributed across all network participants. Interactions with the blockchain become known to all participants and require verification by the network before information is added, enabling trustless collaboration between network participants while recording an immutable audit trail of all interactions.
Blockchain as an enabler of nationwide interoperability
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Is It The Same As Cryptocurrency
One big myth is that it is inherently tied to cryptocurrencies this could not be further from the truth. Part of the confusion around the differences originated from terminology that was used during the early evolution of the technology, where its most attention-grabbing application, cryptocurrency, was at the forefront of the press. Often, the terms were used synonymously, leading to some confusion for those trying to understand this new technology and the benefits it could provide.
Blockchain itself is the backbone of all cryptocurrencies and enables their creation and exchange through secure, decentralized and anonymous transactions. Cryptocurrency is essentially a digital form of money or medium of exchange an alternative to traditional fiat moneyor government-issued currency such as the U.S. dollar or Euro.
Cryptocurrency functions as P2P money without the input of banks as an official issuing intermediary. Similar to cash and banking transactions, cryptocurrency needs to maintain a digitized, decentralized, public ledger of all transactions, which is stored in the blockchain.
Sell Your Medical Data On A Blockchain Marketplace
Most patients never know or understand that their medical information is shared. In hospitals or drug trials, you just sign some papers and dont pay attention to the fine print.
Hu-manity has developed a smart contract that allows patients to negotiate specific terms of consent with companies interested in using their medical data. When it comes to selling the data to interested third-parties, they are in control.
Also, companies go through intermediaries to get access to the right patients with the right health issues.
Open Health Platform uses blockchain technology for sharing data to healthcare providers, researchers and insurers.
Another company tackling this problem is Embleema. They are removing the middlemen but also allowing patients to own their data and find someone who wants to buy it. This helps both pharma and end users who can now monetize their data.
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What Business Benefits Do These Capabilities Deliver
Security: Blockchain is verified through a consensus system and stored across many nodes, making DDoS cyberattacks and tampering with records extremely difficult Cost efficiency: Middlemen who take a cut of transactions can be removed because consensus mechanisms create trust through transparency Traceability: An immutable record of all transactions can reduce fraud and protect against liability Business process speed: Automated smart contracts can reduce time of transactions because the process no longer requires manual oversight Token value: Digital assets can hold virtual and real-world value, such as when a virtual token is used for a loyalty points programme Confidentiality: Collaboration between organisations can occur without sharing sensitive information, e.g. individual medical records Neutral and equal: No one company or individual owns the blockchain, encouraging trustworthiness and longevity of the system, e.g. if one of the founding parties leaves, the system will continue to work without them
Given the huge challenge healthcare systems are facing around digitising and sharing medical records, and tracking prescription drug and other medical goods in the supply chain and delivery, it is no surprise that many are trying to improve processes in healthcare by applying blockchain technology.
Blockchain: The Next Horizontal Innovation
We have talked about Blockchain basics a lot of times on this site before. So, to give you an extremely short description. A blockchain is, in the simplest of terms, a time-stamped series of immutable record of data that is managed by a cluster of computers not owned by any single entity. Each of these blocks of data is secured and bound to each other using cryptographic principles .
The reason why the blockchain has gained so much admiration is that:
- It is not owned by a single entity, hence it is decentralized
- The data is cryptographically stored inside
- The blockchain is immutable, so no one can tamper with the data that is inside the blockchain
- The blockchain is transparent so one can track the data if they want to
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Things To Know About Blockchain In Healthcare
Blockchain is being posited as the next frontier in healthcare that will help solve some of the industry’s interoperability challenges. So what exactly is this technology?
Here are nine things to know about blockchain and its potential use in healthcare.
1. Blockchain technology is a permanent record of online transactions or exchanges. It emerged in 2009 as the foundation for trading the digital currency bitcoin.
2. This record can be shared among a network of computers, and users on the network can add to the record of transactions. Instead of a database that is centrally located and maintains and manages records, the database is distributed to the networks. Transactions are kept secure via cryptography, and transactions have to be approved and verified by the network in a process called mining.
Each transaction can be thought of as a block, and the ledger that links them together can be thought of as the chain.
3. Since users’ transactions are directly added to this ledger, it eliminates the need for a middleman that traditionally may facilitate such transactions. For example, in the financial services industry, trades that are typically verified by a clearinghouse that maintains its own central ledger can happen independently.
“Disconnected parties within an organization or across an entire industry can now securely converge on the same information, allowing for the development of an entirely new class of applications that will unlock wasted resources.”
Improving Treatment Of Hemophilia Patients
Poor data quality and a lack of treatment monitoring in everyday life makes it difficult to allocate the appropriate treatment and medication to hemophilia patients.
dHealths technology will enable researchers to acquire key data necessary to provide better treatment and better medication.
That is why dHealth partnered together with a Patient Advocacy Group and a Swiss-based pharma companyto implement the blockchain-based app Centiva Life. The app incentivizes patients or the family of child patientsto provide real-world data that can be used by healthcare researchers.
Blockchain technology is being used to preserve the privacy of the patientsby using a GDPR compatible data handling method. Digital Health Points are transferred to patients for the data provision. All the while, patients and their families can use the DHP tokens to redeem benefits.
After one year of preparation which was hampered by the pandemicthe first patients have been onboarded in January 2021. It is the expectation of all parties involved that the existing patient registry data will improve, therefore, therapy outcomes for hemophilia patients will as well.
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Identification Of A Single Patient
In healthcare services, the confound and duplication of the patient’s record aren’t wrongfully unusual. Besides, various mapping of various EHRs makes the activity harder as it carries better approaches to control the least difficult information. Nonetheless, the whole information hashed to a record with blockchain. You will experience different addresses and keys when searching for addresses. Albeit, every one of them will give out a solitary patient identification.
Scope Of Blockchain Technology In Healthcare
The scope of blockchain technology in healthcare is immense. This is supported by a report which says that the global blockchain development technology in healthcare.
Which was valued at approximately $34.47 million will see a steep rise in 2024 with revenue close to $1415.59 million. Moreover, the CAGR growth will be around 70.45% between 2018-2024.
The stats look promising, but what are the key factors that makes blockchain so crucial for healthcare. Lets have a look at those factors one by one.
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Iot Security For Remote Monitoring
One of the biggest trends in digital health is the adoption of remote monitoring solutions, where all kinds of sensors measuring patients vital signs are being used to help give healthcare practitioners more visibility into patients health, enabling more proactive and preventative care. Weve previously covered many promising remote monitoring use cases in our articles on 5G and edge computing in digital health.
However, security is a huge issue in health IoT, both in terms of ensuring that patient data is private and secure and that it is not tampered with to create false information. In some cases, where a connected device may be depended on in emergency situations, e.g. alerting an elderly persons carer that they have suffered a fall or a heart attack, it is also crucial that the supporting systems are very resilient to DDoS or other attacks disrupting service.
How blockchain systems could help secure remote monitoring IoT devices:
Blockchain cryptography ensures that only permitted parties can gain access to personal data, which is stored on the blockchain as a unique hash function
Once patient data is recorded on the blockchain ledger then it is nearly impossible to tamper with since it would require gaining access to all stored copies
Figure 3: How blockchain can improve IoT security
Blockchain Adoption In Healthcare
While the adoption of blockchain in healthcare has been comparatively slow all these years, a major paradigm shift is en route. According to a report from IDC, 1 in every 5 medical and healthcare organizations will start using blockchain for information management and patient identity purposes by 2020. By 2025, 55 percent of all healthcare applications will have deployed blockchain for commercial purposes. And by the same year, the valuation of blockchain in healthcare will jump to $5.61 billion from the present $170 million, BIS Research suggests.
The data is intriguing, and the excitement to understand what changes blockchain could bring to the healthcare industry is quite obvious. But before that, it is important to understand the reasons why the healthcare industry needs to implement blockchain technology.
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What Are Some Common Considerations When Integrating This Technology Into Existing Systems
Initially, interface engines and connectors are likely needed to provide input, output, verification and validation of data between blockchain systems and the existing systems of record this is until future versions of applications are able to use application programming interfaces to interface directly. A robust patient matching system and/or decentralized identification system for integration is important to ensure validity of data. Furthermore, a relationship should be defined between the data on the blockchain and the data that live within legacy systems that may be linked.
Medical Staff Credential Verification
Similar to tracking the provenance of a medical good, blockchain technology can be used to track the experience of medical professionals, where trusted medical institutions and healthcare organisations can log the credentials of their staff, in turn helping to streamline the hiring process for healthcare organisations. US based ProCredEx has developed such a medical credential verification system using the R3 Corda blockchain protocol.
The key benefits of the blockchain system are:
- Faster credentialing for healthcare organisations during the hiring process
- An opportunity for medical institutions, insurers, and healthcare providers to monetise their existing credentials data on past and existing staff
- Transparency and reassurance for partners, e.g. organisations sub-contracting locum tenens, or in emerging virtual health delivery models to inform patients on medical staff experience
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Blockchain For Healthcare: Smart Contracts
There are a lot of contracts in the healthcare industry between patients and hospitals, healthcare providers, organizations and vendors, the list goes on.
Now, with smart contracts being developed, the blockchain stands to upend the entire industry, with cutting costs being an added benefit.
For reference, a smart contract is a computer protocol intended to digitally facilitate, verify, or enforce the negotiation or performance of a contract, without the need for third-parties. They can be used to secure data transfers, retrievals and analyses.
Smart contracts will allow hospitals and other practices to store patient records in a digital ledger. Patients will have the freedom to change hospitals without the need to fill in numerous forms as their new physicians can view all their information on the blockchain network.
This data also needs to be made secure. Since smart contracts are built on blockchain technology, the data can be aggregated, shared and stored in a transparent manner.
Finally, blockchain for healthcare significantly reduces the inefficiency and waste in the current healthcare landscape. Health payers end up paying claims, and then retrospectively work on identifying inaccurate payments and reconciling over and underpayments.
Where blockchain can help is that its shared ledger capabilities provide complete transparency to all parties, allowing payers and providers to negotiate claims tied to the value of care.
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