Solving Real World Problems – Improving The Quality of Life The Decentralized Way

in healthcare •  last year

It’s heartening when we see innovations being applied to something that matters - improve the lives of people. Although I would agree that this means different things to different people. To Silicon Valley guys, raising millions of dollars to create yet another rumor app is “world-changing” and other buzzwords marketing geeks throw around to spice up their mission statement. First World Problems?

A couple of days ago, I decided to start writing about real use cases behind the recent blockchain/crypto craze. And it’s been an interesting undertaking so far.

Almost at the same time Brave’s Basic Attention Token was making records with its ICO, Patientory was concluding its own too. Raising $7.2 million in three days. The Patientory app token was built to provide a unified platform for medical records.

Issues with The Current Health Care System

A nation’s quality of life depends on its’ health care sector. While many countries have gotten this setup in an efficient manner, it’s sad that several countries still have bad health care systems. It’s even more annoying when such countries are developed western countries who have billions of dollars as budgeted health expenditures. The case of US is an upsetting example.

In fact, the country is nowhere to be found in the top 10 list of developed countries with best healthcare systems. A quick Google search will provide you a myriad of problems rocking the health care system and judging from current happenings, things might get worse.

Of Highly Priced Drugs, Blatant Ripoffs And Wasted Expenditure

These are perhaps the biggest problems in the health care sector. In the case of US, there is so much spending for such an underwhelming sector. The chart below buttresses this fact:

A recent Jan 2017 OECD study revealed that the US among other countries wastes about 20% of their health-care expenditures. With millions of needy people, something urgent has to be done.

Pharmaceutical companies are most times left with no choice than to inflate the prices of drugs due to the bureaucratic expenses incurred. There are however those who do it excessively too. Remember Shkreli?

Saving lives should be treated with far more importance than profits.

Overworked Endangered Species

Why train lifesavers when there are weapons of mass destruction to be bought? A raise for training new doctors will not be approved but buying killer fighter jets is a no brainer.


^Demands far exceeds supply

What does this lead to? Higher waiting times for patients, lost working hours and overworked doctors who have more than enough to fill their plate. As if this is not enough, hospital management boards subject them to tasking records too.

Blockchain to the Rescue: Beyond A Fad

Like all other innovations, Bitcoin and its blockchain technology have been labeled with various terms. Fad, scam, Ponzi scheme, name them all. Now that it’s reaching wider adoption, it will be wrong to think that the Blockchain tech can only be adapted to the financial sector alone. The Linux Foundation aims to change this notion by encouraging the hyperledger project- a collaboration to advance blockchain application across various industries.

For the health care sector, there is the Hyperledger Healthcare Working Group consisting of companies like IBM, Accenture, and others. They are to encourage the development of working use cases of the blockchain to solve the various problems plaguing the health care system.

Why So much Focus on Data Records?

Literally, all efforts you see in the news about blockchain applications have been about data interoperability and security. As depicted by the Forbes illustration below, even governmental inquiries have mostly been focused on that:

Creating A Universal Source of truth

At first, six-figure dollars was being spent annually to make paper records of health care transactions leading to even more stress on the understaffed workforce. Over time, hospitals started implementing Electronic Record Systems to automate several of these task leading to a more productive workforce.

However, a huge problem arose from each hospital having customized EHRs: Creation of a firewall around patients' health information. While this was/still is beneficial to the profit-making hospital management boards, the casualties are the millions of patients seeking various treatment in many hospitals at the same time.

Each hospital treated its EHR as the single source of truth only relying on its collated data points. Patients who needed to use their personal health information to work with other doctors and specialists had no other choice that creating new records with them leading to higher charges.

Blockchain Tech Can Change This

Rather than having several centralized duplicated EHRs, Blockchain can provide a distributed, cryptographically secure ledger that records all patients’ information thereby making it available to all authorized parties.

Gem Health, HarmonIQ, and Tierion are some blockchain solutions aiming to create a universal data infrastructure.

Here’s a short video by Fortune showing a Gem executive talk about how blockchain is helping to save money and create a universal source of truth.

Reducing Medical Errors

Another reason why there is so much emphasis on having a decentralized EHRs is that it can help reduce the rate at which medical errors (poor tracking of surgeries outcome, wrong diagnostics et al) are made. It’s a huge problem! A recent study posits that ‘medical errors’ is now the 3rd leading cause of death in the US.

Having a platform that makes data exchange and tracking easy can help to substantially reduce these errors.

Patientory and Cybersecurity

Last month, a number of hospitals in the US, UK and a part of Spain were massively hit with the ransomware called Wannacry. Exploiting a bug, hospital operations were locked down by the attackers in exchange for a ransom of $300.

Because hospitals need timely information about a patient to perform surgeries, recommend drugs etc, they are easy targets of ransom wares as they are more likely to cave in quickly for fear of privacy violations and HIPAA compliance lawsuits.

Patientory unique blockchain app is here to solve that. Its’ HIPAA complaint blockchain based app help mitigate data breaches and provide a decentralized data architecture that is transparent and secure.

Other Use Cases –

Other startups are also trying to apply the beauty of blockchain to other healthcare sector niches like Billing Management, Drug Supply Chain, and Claims Adjudication

Conclusion

The Blockchain is a new technology in terms of mass adoption but it’s already providing immense solutions to age-long problems plaguing the healthcare industry.

Applying decentralization to the healthcare sector is without its own attendant challenges. However, it’s hoped that as more companies and governmental bodies devote attention and resources to the development of blockchain apps for the healthcare industry, things will get better and we can finally have a healthcare system citizens will be proud of.

Over to you

What’s your biggest pet peeve about your country’s healthcare system?


Sources:

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I don't understand how a healthcare blockchain is any better than a well designed central database which all hospitals could be forced to use. With regular backups to avoid the wannacry issue.

Also on privacy: will this make health records public? If so, will 3rd parties pick up on this data and start using it for marketing, loan applications, insurance etc etc?

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No, centralized databases proved itself untrustful as the concept of being centralized holds the one and only source of trust, and if it gets compromised (and it will, 0day using viruses will appear periodically) there will be data loss/exposure, varying from non-zero to 100% (assuming there are backups made, and level at which data is encrypted).

Blockchain can eliminate this problem, as it gives extreme level of trustfulness to database current state, due to multiple trust nodes over the network which one by one sign trustful transactions.

However, your point is valid, because there are multiple nodes which hold same data state and all transactions being publicly available, the privacy is to be concerned about. There are ways to make nodes do extra steps on assuring transaction stays private and does not expose critical data. But the certainly we can say that, centralized database has definite advantage over blockchain (yet) at this point.

You can read this article as it has points I gave in this commentary: http://www.multichain.com/blog/2016/03/blockchains-vs-centralized-databases/

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Thanks for the detailed opinion @tensorflow!
Great post @infovore!
Follow you:)

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Couldn't have given a more succinct answer. Thanks for dropping by.

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They could do encryptions on names and sensitive data, but still make most info public if there is a need.

Costs for what and how long thing take and where items are sourced from need to be shown. When everyone knows the costs we can better know if we r getting ripped off or not and go somewhere else

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Exactly. Most companies contract private blockchains for their decentralization forays

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Blockchain is not the future. It is the present and happening! Steemit is one of the best products of blockchain technology!

I'm actually happy to have a decent health care insurance so that I don't have to worry much about it. But anyways it's always so great to hear how many issues are tackled by the blockchain technology. I hope they succeed!

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Sounds like you didn't get struck by the issues introduced back under Obamas health care policies, so far at least? Good to hear.

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I am in a similar boat only because my company provides it at a cheaper rate. But out of pocket to see anyone is like 150 dollars each time. Still seems like I dont get much.

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You are still lucky though to receive some support from your company. I got some friends studying and they got to pay a small fortund just to be insured. I mean they are students so the money is short anyways already 😕

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Good for you! It's always nice to see someone not being shortchanged/ripoffed by the insurance companies.

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But by seeing one person being treated well by insurance you always got at least two others who aren't 😕 Those companies are just modern criminals in some way but they will never get charged for anything, so that improvement will be hard to achieve☹

Great article. I am happy to note that blockchain can also be used to improve healthcare. I agreed that more budget should be allocated to heaith care instead of spending on weapons.

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Yeah. There are several industries that blockchain solutions can help improve their operational processes. I will be writing about more of them in the coming days. And yes! It's saddening that more money is being spent to kill than to save lives.

This is an outstanding post. It was great to see you not engage in simple capital scapegoating too, but rather try to break it down into some tangible issues that we can actually solve.

I bet a blockchain markeplace, to trade the actual healthservices over, could reduce prices drastically as well. Although there could be some initial quirks with monopolistic tendensies, ultimately it should give the consumer more influence over prices tendencies.

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Thanks for the compliment. It would be lovely to see the practicalities of your proposal.

You are correct. There are so many social issue in the world. Just like child abuse, poor, crime and human right issue in third world country. These are what we need to concern.

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Exactly! Even in First World countries like US, there are lot of social ills especially in the colored segments of the society.

With the arrival of VIVAconomy, a lot of it will be dealt with. What if we started looking at the price of surgery or dentistry as well!?! There's some insanity in that field too right now...

It is actually worthwhile to go to other countries to have some of it done and dealt with for a fraction of the price and, often, the same quality I'd get in Canada.

Thanks a bunch for this great piece, as always, and namaste :)

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Thanks for your insight. The medical tourism niche is a big industry on its own.

Canada is a country that has free healthcare, BUT at the cost of long wait times, for essential services, such as CAT scans and MRIs etc. Our country lacks Doctors and in smaller communities it can be a 3-4 year wait just to get a family doctor. A lot of smaller communities also get practicing doctors so the service takes longer to get processed by the new intern, then to wait to relay the information to the actual doctor, I am ok with this cause they have to learn but why is it mostly small towns.

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Wow... And I thought Canada's healthcare was better than that of US. You can't have it all, I guess.

It just occurred to me the current way the government handles information is centralized with not interconnectivity or compatibility. For example, each different department has the same information, but it is all on different systems (and most are antiquated), so the systems can't share information for efficiency.
However the blockchain brings de-centalization with compatibility. Control of the system is not maintained by the government, but it can be on the same blockchain, creating efficiencies.
Usually in business, centralization can create efficiencies, not decentralization. Only the government can manage to screw that up!

Thanks for a thought-provoking article. I'll look for more background on the Patientory journey, for instance. You asked about the health care system in our countries - we live in South Africa and our country's system is in deep jeopardy with a government looking to fully centralise it while at the same time not providing close to the level of service that people in the 21st century deserve. Private sector solutions from health care insurance to private hospitals have moved into the breach to create a highly imbalanced system where those who can afford it (and I'm deeply thankful we're among them) get world class care. South Africa could be an interesting test bed for blockchain based solutions for healthcare to even out those imbalances without destroying the high quality of care delivered through the private sector.

The beautiful thing about all crypto currency, and especially in this context, is what it's all about: Power to the People. Upvoted.

I am fortunate to live in canada where we have universal health care, however many people are unaware that we pay way too much for it. We rank 3rd for most expensive but only ranked 15 in many important stats. I think Canada would benefit tremendously if our system harnessed the power of the blockchain!

Pet-peeve in my country?! There's a whole lot, ranging from few number of Doctors available in the hospital due to God knows what, because there are a lot of Medical students (very bright) in the country. This has lead to most of the opportuned ones to travel out of the country.
There is the issue of inflated price of drugs also. So many problems...God help us all. Great post sire.

Biggest pet peeve of health care? The cost! I purposefully don't have health insurance because of the added cost... well I did have it for a month, and came to find out it was a bait and switch. The plan supposedly covered Dr visits, prescriptions, lab work, etc. it sounded pretty good when I signed up. Then I went to the Dr. "Oh we don't accept that". Okay. Then I went online to the insurance company's online pharmacy to fill my prescription. They were provided at full cost with absolutely no deduction, and when I called to speak to the pharmacist they confirmed that it wasn't covered. I later learned that there are tiers of coverage for prescriptions under the ACA and of course, mine was in the tier that gets NO coverage whatsoever! The only thing that insurance was good for was lab work, so instead of paying $125-$150 out of pocket for my blood work, I ended up only having to pay $25 which was nice. But the monthly bill was ~$260 and bloodwork is a once every few months thing and hardly necessitated paying for the ineffective insurance! And to top it all off, a month or two after I canceled my policy, there was a huge data breach and all my personal info was exposed to identity thieves!

So because of the high costs of health care I basically have to take a gamble with my own health and use cheap generics from Walmart that are $25 compared to the latest and greatest medicationes that are $200-$400 per month. Having a chronic health condition has made me very aware of the outrageousness of the US health system and it makes me very angry that nobody seems to really care about fixing it and would just rather roll over and let the pharmaceutical and insurance companies continue to exploit the living and extort the dying.

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As a Swede with a chronic condition, I can tell you that the issues exist in all systems in all parts of the world, but the U.S. is of course possibly one of the worst. It's a horrible combination of very weak market aspects and stiff regulations.

decentralize
let everyone go their own way.
there IS no such thing as a "society"
there are only people.
leave them the HELL alone.
let them figure it out themselves.

What an interesting use for the blockchain. Some places (like the US have some strict laws about medical records, so there has to be some assurance of privacy. The blockchain is a more efficient means of handling so many transactions, so I think we'll see much more use of it as a back end ledger.

Heeeeere come the Death Panels ~ WAHOOOO ! LQQK~out Yikes

Wont de centralization lead to independent healthcare providers charging whatever they want for their services ? I think that decentralization is a good idea, but healthcare providers will still need some level of oversight from a centralized authority.

seventy years ago a gigabyte of computer memory would have cost millions of dollars..
today it's free.
do the same thing with healthcare.
screw the insurance and big organizations.

the healthScare systems are entirely dominated by a warped version of 'science' that really just suppresses symptoms and avoids causes - for the purposes of making 'money'. sad but true, i assure you.

very nice and informative. Healthcare in the Philippines is not as good compared to the Western regions and Steemit made an impact to that just in the case of @darthnava

I remember have read similar proposal for blockchain usage in the past: health, education, etc. Intriguingly enough, those consist of many services where states are cutting the budget instead of increasing them.

I cross my fingers for the future! :)

Great use of blockchain.
Other than underpaid nurses, I can't think of much wrong with our (Estonia) healthcare system right now. Of course blockchain would make it even better.

@infovore I hope you can spare a moment and check out my latest post and resteem. It's for a good cause. Nothing selfish. Up to you :)

Really great article! It's amazing how blockchain can potentially be used to improve many different areas of our lives. I actually wrote an article on my blog yesterday about the different current and possible uses of blockchain technology.

It's nice that blockchain technology is being implemented in other fields also. But I didn't understood that why would hospitals agree to make the data public on a blockchain to be used by other hospitals.
By the way, medical errors are the third largest cause of deaths in US, that's really unbelievable!!

I actually work in this space and can relate. Most current health care systems are dysfunctional because there are those who benefit from this. In IT there are many vendors who do not wish to work together because they are looking for market share. EHR solutions frequently fail because they simply try to do much. If these projects start small and build and also operate outside of the current interest groups then there are possibilities. If you can have a cryptocurrency wallet then personal medical records in a crypto folder of some sort should work as well.

First, thank you for posting this. Because of wrote you wrote i went to Patientory's website and read the white paper. What i appreciate about what the company is building is that it enables me to introduce this to the handful of safety net clinics that i am currently meeting with to discuss how we might work together to better serve patients. While most of them are on different EMRs, I'm learning that the real reasons they don't share is a lack of trust. Clinics rarely share information with non-clinical health improvement partners such as pharmacists, who actually have better relationships with the patients than doctors do. Furthermore, I have recently learned that close to 25% of prescriptions come with errors or incomplete information. This is just one stakeholder example but if you multiply these challenges when a clinic is coordinating with a hospital, a specialist, perhaps a chronic disease management program like DPP (diabetes prevention program) or with a community health worker. Patientory allows me to talk about how clinics, hospitals, specialists and health enabling services can serve patients in a more coordinated and effective way. Furthermore, it makes the conversation around blockchain something that is tangible and less scary. I'm excited for how solutions like Patientory make health collaboration easier and more effective.

Great article man. I guess my biggest worry in my country is medical incompetence.

great post!! I totally agree blockchain is a new age revolution which will change the world in a drastic way..
Next month Dentacoin is coming which is totally dedicated to dental industry worldwide...Hoping to see such more projects soon.

Thank you for this experiecne i am enlightened!

It is really overwhelming to find out about how many problem can be solved with block-chain.. Amazing!

I saw this ICO but as I'm not in the medical field I couldn't appreciate the value of its application on the blockchain. Thank you for putting this together!

my fingers are crossed for the future

I am extremely hopeful of blockchain technology reducing medical cost to poor. This will happen by

  1. It will reduce R&D cost as was amount of data that will be available to enable low cost, efficient, and effective R&D
  2. Medicine manufacturing and delivery cost will also reduce as there will be significant improvement in supply chain enabled by blockchain

Transparency is where blockchain will meet its enemy. Governments only claim to want honesty, in reality, they could not handle it and will do everything to avoid it.

Hey, i'm from colombia, we dont have a good health database, i can imagine the changes we need to use this. thanks to share

I am not so sure about the value of this in healthcare system...Biggest challenge there is cost and not records.True that medical records are a problem in many cases but they r small compared to many different other issues in health care and to be clear EHR record information in available for a patient throughout the country ,its integrated and not locked in a single hospital

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Such a good read :)

Scaring healthcare in Russia, I am about St Petersburg. I’d rather treat myself at home to avoid seeing mostly writing in papers docs than hearing patients to diagnose diseases. However, some healthcare fields such as cancer, diabetes, HIV are a concern to be treated more or less properly even being highly centralized.

To be great in life you have to follow the best, that's why I follow you, follow me and we help each other

Doctors and Medicine in the US are great. Over regulation is making it so no one can afford that help when we need it. Any technology that forces government out would be welcome.

Wonderful! I got a lot of information from the post

I think blockchain tech is disruptive and the future. I however do not see a play for the tech in healthcare, my humble opinion, your post is goals tho good format

To be great in life you have to follow the best, that's why I follow you, follow me and we help each other

I agree with you on this !!

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Great article! Blockchain brings so much promise to tranforming the health care system, it'll be wonderful when it gets adopted. You'd be surprised at how many records are still being kept by hand, on paper, with no central data repository. Add to that issues with releasing information to different doctors even within the same hospital or facility, and there is HUGE room for improvement in the health care system. Even simple digitizing of records will do so much to improve patient care and patient-doctor communication. The system is rife with problems and I sure hope they will start adopting technologies that improve the lives of all patients and staff.

BlockChain is amazing technology like how your bringing out the benefit to the health sector which like you point out needs all the help it can get now to resteem and spread the blockchain knowledge!!! Thanks again.

great post ! thanks for your infos!

So many great ideas out there.

Great post. Thanks @infovore.

I do not know if it is possible, but I desire a financial rescue blockchain for countries vulnerability to banks greed and plan to freeze all bank accounts t pay off national and banking debts. If everybody contribute to a fund that can eradicate national debt, a blockchain might be needed to store and control the operational vision of a crisis debt fund.

I am a vascular surgeon who has worked nonstop for 40 yrs of practice. The EMR's, while creating a a better-looking record, take about 30% more time from the health care professionals to enter the data into the system. This is time spent away from the patient. In the case of nurses, doctors and therapists this has led to less bedside care and more FaceTime with the computer. In our office, we have hired scribes to enter the data as I see the patient so I can concentrate on my customer and not the computer. The cost of the extra personnel is paid out of our overhead, but the use of EMR is mandated by the government. Sorry to digress about one of my pet peeves. Your article is excellent and with good examples of how blockchain will improve access of records and protect privacy all at once. It will definitely help coalesce the scattered and inefficient present systems into a patient centered one. Just another example of the blockchain revolution. Isn't it exciting? You have my up vote.

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Thank you for a very interesting and clear..post which is also very accessible .
The issues you raise are important and you present practical solutions.

No, centralized databases proved itself untrustful because the concept of being centralized holds the handiest and best supply of consider, and if it gets compromised (and it's going to, 0day the use of viruses will seem periodically) there is probably information loss/publicity, diverse from non-zero to one hundred% (assuming there are backups made, and stage at which data is encrypted).

Blockchain can dispose of this trouble, because it offers extreme degree of trustfulness to database cutting-edge u . S ., due to more than one consider nodes over the network which one after the other signal trustful transactions.

However, your point is valid, due to the fact there are more than one nodes which preserve same information country and all transactions being publicly to be had, the privateness is to be concerned approximately. There are tactics to make nodes do more steps on assuring transaction stays non-public and does now not divulgea.

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Good one

The list of ways that blockchain is going to bring on the biggest paradigm shift we ever saw is just endless. I remember thinking that the Internet was going to change the world... and in a way it did.. but when we start to really look at the potential for blockchain to REALLY change the world, it is pretty breathtaking.

Thanks for sharing these great examples..
wOw!