Healthcare is plagued by inefficiencies and cost overruns but blockchain technology holds the solution, and could lead to a better patient experience in the process, writes Solve.Care Founder & CEO, Pradeep Goel.
The value of the global healthcare industry has grown exponentially in recent years, reaching more than 8.45 trillion dollars in 2018. And this growth is expected to continue, with the sector looking set to grow at a Compound Annual Growth Rate (CAGR) of 8.9% to nearly $11.9 trillion by 2022. Despite its rapid growth, it is a generally accepted fact that the industry suffers greatly from issues of extraneous expenses and system-wide inefficiencies — issues which must be tackled for the sake of the patients it serves and the medical practitioners it employs.
Broadly speaking, the healthcare industry can be categorized into three main pillars of payments/insurance, medical institutions, and clinical. And, like countless other industry sectors, these three pillars are constantly being built up with new systems and processes in an effort to improve efficiency for their respective stakeholders. But therein lies the main challenge facing healthcare today; these pillars are built up independently in silos as the focus and priorities of each stakeholder differ from one another.
This creates a disconnect between the pillars and makes administration processes incredibly inefficient. And this is by no means just a recent problem, healthcare systems around the world lack efficiency and have been hemorrhaging money for many years. These problems are symptomatic of the current healthcare system at large and attempting to treat them independently by implementing new systems for individual silos does not address the root causes.
As it stands, it may take months for a payment to be processed or for patient information to be transferred between insurance companies and institutions. And all the while the patient has no real idea of why this is happening behind the scenes. And, ultimately, what you end up with is not only inefficient communication between healthcare service providers but, more seriously still, a loss of trust with patients resulting from a lack of transparency.
However, blockchain – the emerging technology that suddenly everyone seems to be talking about – has a role to play in reducing these inefficiencies and creating a more transparent and trustworthy healthcare sector for everyone. The usage of blockchain technology can bring about vital change to the healthcare industry by addressing the root issue of a disconnect between the three pillars and breaking down the barriers to alleviate these problems and inefficiencies. To understand how this exciting technology stands to have such a positive effect on the sector, it is worth first providing a brief overview of how blockchain works.
Blockchain can be described as an infinite and immutable data ledger. The data on a blockchain is replicated onto numerous unrelated nodes creating a decentralized database that cannot be altered or controlled from any one node. A strict record-keeping technology that provides transparency and auditability by design adds more levels of oversight where issues can be quickly flagged.
Imagine being granted the ability to view the entire healthcare supply chain and isolating the issue without having to parse through hundreds of unrelated documents. For example, fraud or counterfeit medicines can be more easily detected as you can view medicine certifications, check the source of the medicine, and easily ensure the shipment amounts, simply because you have easy access to detailed records at each step of the chain.
However, the true revolutionization of healthcare comes when the patient is empowered to make better-informed decisions and when they are given more responsibility in their role as the focus of the healthcare system. This can only be done by giving patients the knowledge or tools to be able to control their healthcare journey. A driving factor of the mission to utilize blockchain in healthcare is the philosophy of putting the focus on patients back into the centre of the healthcare journey. Patients stand to benefit in a number of ways from gaining stronger ownership over their data on a blockchain.
First and foremost, a patient can retain access to their part of the data on a blockchain and have the ability to track or revoke access to their data at any given time. Patients will no longer have to entrust the safety of their information to institutions, or any other 3rd party that has to keep track of thousands, if not millions, of people’s data. Not to mention, a consumer is rarely aware of the affiliations or partners they have signed the rights of their personal data to. With blockchain, gone will be the days of being contacted by 3rd party vendors of which you have never heard of.
The healthcare industry is changing in today’s landscape of remote access and telehealth services due to growing accessibility to digital solutions. These consultations not only require remote access but a secure way of transferring information from patient to doctor and doctor to patient. This, coupled with the growing usage of mobile health devices and remote monitoring, presents an opportunity for blockchain technology.
Once again it boils down to the need for data security and verifiable transactions as it is currently the case that medical records and patient information are often spread out between different institutions. It is undeniable that blockchain is accepted as one of the most secure data management systems in existence today, but the key to its success in healthcare will be the unrivaled interoperability it can provide.
Pradeep Goel is the Chief Executive Officer of Solve.Care, a global healthcare company that redefines care coordination, improves access to care, empower consumers with information, reduces benefit administration costs, and helps reduce fraud and waste in healthcare around the world.
Pradeep has more than 25 years of healthcare experience, developing groundbreaking software for the insurance industry, and co-founding four healthcare IT businesses where he has served in a number of management roles including CEO, COO, CIO, and CTO.
Pradeep was previously Founder and CEO of health software firm EngagePoint, where he was deeply involved in implementing the Affordable Care Act across multiple states. He also served as Chief Innovation Officer and Chief Information Officer at Noridian BlueCross BlueShield of North Dakota. Pradeep Co-founded Dakota Imaging in 1990, where he served as Senior Vice President and Chief Operating Officer, before the company was subsequently acquired by WebMD.
Pradeep has been named one of the ‘100 Most Promising Entrepreneurs Worldwide’ by Goldman Sachs. He holds a B.E. in Systems Engineering from the University of Punjab in India.
Solve.Care is a global healthcare company that redefines care coordination, improves access to care, empower consumers with information, reduces benefit administration costs, and helps reduce fraud and waste in healthcare around the world. The Solve.Care platform creates an ecosystem for patient-centric care based on medical conditions, economic and social needs, and other tailored eligibility criteria. Solve.Care is the first company to utilize digital currency and blockchain technology in healthcare for value-based payments. Solve.Care has received the Most Innovative Blockchain Project Award at the Blockchain Life 2019 Forum and the “Top 3 Innovative Blockchain Solution” and “Top 3 Outstanding Projects” at the 2019 World Blockchain Awards, among other accolades.
The views and opinions expressed herein are the views and opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Nasdaq, Inc.