Leveraging blockchains to improve health data

Leveraging blockchains to improve health data

Written by
Esha Bora
Date published
October 18, 2022

For an industry that generates ~1/3 of the world's data, the healthcare (HC) industry has highly ineffective data management and transferability.In this thread, we'll explore HC data issues and how web3 can have an impactūüĎá

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1/ Need more background on the crossover between web3 and healthcare?

Check out my last thread which gives a broad overview! ‚Üď

2/ Data is important in almost all industries.However, in healthcare, data can mean the crucial difference between life and death.

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3/ Despite this level of importance, so much health data is inaccessible: stored away in unstructured health record systems.

For example, physicians are unable to easily access patient medical history to help them make accurate diagnoses.

4/ Or, patients may be paying for duplicate medical tests because one clinic is unable access reports from another physician.

5/ This health data issue has led to:

1. Billions of dollars unnecessarily spent

2. Countless hours of patient and physician time wasted

3. Lack of satisfaction for involved stakeholders

6/ Health data includes categories such as genomic data, patient charts, EHRs, tests and scans, etc. There's a catch though:

- Owner of the data/information = patient

- Owner of the health records = healthcare providers

Basically... you don't own your own health records!ūüė¨

7/ Patients are allowed to make changes but have to go through the provider to do so, thus making these records prone to human error.

To make it worse, patients are charged a fee to simply access their own health records.

8/ Basically, the current system of health data management is:

1) Tedious - lots of money and human effort is spent managing health records

2) Ineffective - when anyone needs data, it can be costly and time-consuming to get access

9/ There is an overall consensus and awareness amongst a wide population that there's a need for better technology to improve health data systems.

However, making changes to health technology is a difficult task given all the compliance issues (HIPAA!!).

10/ Being HIPAA compliant involves following many guidelines.

There's a need for:

- granting access control- encryption

- leading audit trails

- giving security updates

- documentation

11/¬†Because of the evident issues with current health data infrastructure, web3 healthcare builders are giving these systems a lot of attention. Let's look through some examplesūüĎá

12/ The platform @patientory, for example, is a peer-to-peer, HIPAA compliant electronic medical record (EMR) system which uses a blockchain health information exchange.

13/ According to Patientory's white paper, in order to use a public blockchain for storing health data, every miner would need to be HIPAA compliant. Additionally, it can be risky to have sensitive data (even if identifiers are removed) on a public chain.

14/ For these reasons, Patientory decided to use a private implementation of an Ethereum based blockchain.

Thus, even though its not public, this blockchain application does solve some crucial issues posed by its traditional counterpart.

15/ Patientory allows for:

- patients to have primary access/rights

- a relatively more secure yet easier method to grant access

- an immutable information record

16/ Furthermore, Patientory's PTOY token allows for management of the blockchain infrastructure. Optimally, patients/companies can use tokens to manage storage space, complete payments, and eventually use for reward programs.

17/ Alongside purely blockchain healthcare platforms like Patientory, there are examples of current healthcare industry players trying to implement blockchain to fix the health data issue.

18/ For instance, @AvaneerHealth is an interoperable, participant-based network founded and funded ($50 million) by a consortium of health data-related companies. This consortium includes key companies like @Aetna, @ElevanceHealth, @sentarahealth, and more.

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19/ Avaneer Network will allow participants access to a range of solutions geared towards increasing interoperability and security to create better healthcare outcomes for patients and physicians.

20/ These founding member companies of the Avaneer network account for 80 million covered lives and 14 million annual patient visits. The variety of stakeholders and access to this large patient population gives hope for healthcare technology solutions and their mass adoption.

21/ Whether it's less forms for patients to fill out or less companies for hospital admin to contact for medical records, the impact will be evident. These small changes will add up to make a better healthcare experience for many stakeholders, especially patients and physicians.

22/ Blockchain technology and ideologies have the potential to greatly change healthcare as we know it today.

Healthcare x technology is a long journey worth persevering for.

23/ In summary:

- Tedious traditional health data management makes healthcare expensive and inefficient

- Companies like @patientory and @AvaneerHealth are implementing blockchain tech to healthcare

- Health data tech has a lot of growth potential in the coming years

24/ Thank you to @yb_effect and @nonieengel for feedback on this thread!