The ‘Blockchain in Healthcare Today’ review board discussed their major predictions for the next 12 months. Based on their responses, here are 10 significant themes for the future of blockchain in healthcare.
Blockchain will become an essential part of consent management in healthcare
Currently, consent is stored in provider’s electronic health records and hospital record departments. Consent is procured for every procedure and/or at each patient visit. There are startup agencies who are innovating the consent process in a radical way —storing patient consent for data exchange, privacy expectations, and treatments on the blockchain. In this instance, all of the applicable participants can access consents from a central location and adhere to the patient’s preferences. This method will lower the administrative load and improve the patient care experience.
Remittance and micropayment will increasingly migrate to blockchain
Under the model of value-based purchasing, healthcare providers are reimbursed for keeping patients healthy, not the amount of care they administer. A number of startups are creating wellness applications that motivate them to make the right decision. One example of innovation is an all-inclusive payment interface that offers micropayments to patients when they achieve certain outcomes. Additionally, following co-pays and the employee’s responsibility of medical costs could be easier with a blockchain-based universal payment program.
Non-cash assets, including healthcare outcomes, will be tokenized
Blockchain has its place in cryptocurrency, but a ‘token’ can symbolize just about anything — such as real estate or an object. Tokens help to manage results or arrive at an end product in healthcare. Proof of Impact, a start-up, measures patient outcomes and offers organizations (outside of government) the opportunity to ‘buy’ outcomes. For example, instead of only offering grant funding, foundations could pay for outcomes documented in the blockchain.
Providers will be credentialed on chain
Maintaining up-to-date healthcare provider directories is an important and complicated issue facing organizations in the industry. The Synaptic Health Alliance’s goal is to simplify this process by putting provider demographic information on a permission-based blockchain for Alliance members to access and maintain.
Improvements to blockchain infrastructure will reduce electricity requirements and enhance speed/scalability
Transactional speeds will increase and the blockchain service will improve ease of use. It will do so by masking the intricacy of blockchain behind a set of cloud-hosted functions, with easy-to-use application programming interfaces.
Supply chain integrity will be tracked on chain
Currently, when traveling abroad, it would be nearly impossible to purchase medications at a pharmacy and track down the integrity of the lot numbers, or the purity of the compounds. A blockchain approach to pharmaceutical supply chain would make certain that the products are authentic.
Education of stakeholders will refine the use cases for blockchain and accelerate adoption
Oftentimes, blockchain needs to be clarified what it is, and what it is not. It is not a high-performance database, an analytical tool, or the solution to managing person identity. Although, there are several uses to apply the blockchain as described above — consent, credentialing, data integrity guarantees, supply chain management, and micropayments. As more and more organizations are educated about the benefits of blockchain, high value use cases will be utilized more often.
Opportunities for monetization of data including the genome will be enhanced by blockchain
Data is a goldmine, that’s the truth. On the other hand, reselling data without open disclosure and approval can be troubling. Facebook has had their fair share of problems in this area. But, perhaps a marketplace for data would be beneficial to allow people to contribute data. This could be valuable for clinical trials and research, and the contributors could be paid each time their data were used. Think of a syndicated television show and the actors who are still getting paid for reruns two decades later. Nebula Genomics, for example, is exploring this idea to accumulate genomic data for the development of precision medicine tools more rapidly.
Integrity of medical records will be an essential use case for blockchain
Health outcomes are obviously not positive every time, and inevitably someone is often blamed, or sued. When attorneys request medical records, they can make accusations that the records are altered to remove proof of medical mistakes. An audit trail can validate that records have not been changed…but those too can be accused of being changed. If a distributed ledger technology were used to guarantee the integrity of medical records, then physicians, IT groups, and lawyers would have that authenticity burden removed.
Existing blockchain in healthcare startups will be acquired and we’ll see substantial consolidation of blockchain in healthcare offerings
The marketplace of companies offering blockchain is sizable, but oftentimes they only have ideas and not actual products. Some of these startups will lose momentum and go out of business. But, the startups with great potential will be acquired, such as Change Healthcare did with Pokitdok.
Be sure to stop by our blog later this month — we’ll be reviewing how to implement blockchain technology in healthcare.