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Healthcare Blockchain Improves EHRs, Business Process Management

Alternate Health and Luxoft with Appian explore healthcare blockchain for EHRs and business process management to further develop the technology.

healthcare blockchain

Source: Thinkstock

By Elizabeth O'Dowd

- As healthcare blockchain continues to grow, more vendors are releasing tools featuring the technology. Most recently, Alternate Healthcare and Appian with Luxoft have released blockchain tools for the healthcare industry.

Alternate Health announced the release of its blockchain EHR system based on Ethereum blockchain. Other recent healthcare blockchain tools have been built on Ethereum including DNAtix, which is using the technology to transfer large genomic data sets.

The EHR is HIPAA and PIPEDA-compliant and uses blockchain to keep patient information on a distributed ledger. Each patient has a private cryptographic key that is used to identify the patient and decrypt her personal health information from the distributed ledger.

According to Alternate Health, this blockchain tool offers the following:

  • Reliability - The use of decentralized, cloud-based storage ensures maximum reliability and prevents data loss through regular automated backups of all data.
  • Security - All sensitive patient data storage exceeds HIPAA and PIPEDA requirements; Since only the hash value of sensitive data is stored on the blockchain, data can only be decrypted with the private key of that account.
  • Transparency - The use of a distributed ledger ensures data is tamper-proof, preventing cyber-attacks on the system itself since previous transaction data cannot be changed or overwritten.

"Alternate Health's blockchain EMR/EHR completes our comprehensive integration of blockchain technology into all aspects of our software systems," Alternate Health Chairman and CEO Dr. Michael Murphy said in a statement. "Along with the deployment of our Zi App Blockchain Mobile Payment System and our blockchain transaction ledger, Alternate Health is leading the paradigm shift in emerging healthcare data and medical cannabis technology."

While EHRs were one of the most suggested HIT infrastructure tools for blockchain, payer tools ended up being the first successful proof of concept for the technology. This was because of a lack of national patient identifier, making it hard to prove a patient is really who they say they are.

Organizations could also potentially struggle with engaging patients and encouraging them to be in control of their own data.

EHRs that are developed on different frameworks such as Ethereum and Hyperledger may face interoperability challenges as EHR data needs to be exchanged between different organizations.

Appian has also entered the healthcare blockchain game with Luxoft Holding, which has built a blockchain adapter for Appian’s rapid application development platform. Healthcare organizations using Appian’s business process management tool can integrate a blockchain network into their business process. This creates a secure environment for digital data sharing.

“The launch of this adapter is about helping businesses realize the huge potential of blockchain by making it easier to use,” Luxoft Vice President of Technology Strategy Vasiliy Suvorov said in a statement.  “Problems integrating blockchain into existing in-house systems are often the biggest obstacles to its adoption. Now, by integrating blockchain into a BPM, a business can leverage the benefits of a decentralized model whilst retaining its existing IT architecture. This means business don’t have to rip out their old IT systems to use blockchain.”

While this technology can be used across all verticals, Appian and Luxoft are targeting the healthcare sector in particular by reducing claims processing errors and reducing inaccurate medical bills. The blockchain tool aims to create a reliable and secure way to share and update information so all providers using the tool have access to the same data.

“The disparate systems used by pharmacies, healthcare providers and insurers to manage medical information are extremely complex. They are not designed for the smooth exchange of data,” Luxoft Managing Director of Digital Enterprise Sam Mantle stated. “The blockchain adapter will be a step towards seamless integration across the healthcare ecosystem enabling payers, providers and patients to exchange and verify data in a safe and compliant way.”

As more healthcare blockchain tools emerge, organizations will be able to see the different ways the technology can be applied to health IT infrastructure. If these blockchain tools prove to be successful, healthcare organizations are looking at a new and innovative way to store, protect, and exchange health data.

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