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Healthcare Blockchain Puts Patients in Control of EHRs

Healthcare blockchain continues to emerge as organizations look for efficient infrastructure solutions for value-based care.

healthcare blockchain

Source: Thinkstock

By Elizabeth O'Dowd

- Organizations are exploring the possibilities of healthcare blockchain to more securely exchange data and help solve interoperability issues among disparate EHR systems. More vendors are developing solutions for blockchain in healthcare as more entities express interest in the technology.

MintHealth announced the development of its personal health record (PHR) built on blockchain technology. The solution aims to empower patients to be in control of their own medical records and as a result, create more awareness of chronic medical conditions so patients can be proactive about their healthcare.

MintHealth is currently in its first phase of deployment and will be making its platform available to payers to help them engage with patients suffering with chronic conditions.

The solution includes a mobile app to engage patients and will also release a companion clinical tool for healthcare providers to help them manage their patients.

The tool was developed to counteract the rising costs of healthcare, which is most often focused on treating illnesses rather than managing risk factors that can prevent patients from becoming sick. This aligns well with value-based care initiatives.

“While the idea of promoting wellness to improve health is not new, previous efforts have failed because of siloed clinical and behavioral data, the inability to incentivize patient behaviors, and the lack of a platform that aligns patients, providers, and payers around patient empowerment,” MintHealth CEO and Co-Founder Dr. Samir Damani said in a statement.

“Today, blockchain technology and the use of digital incentives, such as vidamints, will revolutionize the way we manage patients at risk for and those who have already developed chronic conditions.”

Vidamints (VIDA) are a patient engagement feature to encourage patients to use the platform. The VIDA tokens reward users for healthy behavior and align users with stakeholders. VIDA tokens can be used toward healthcare related expenses including premiums and co-pays.

“The initial step of digitizing health data in electronic health record systems (EHRs) moved us towards value-based care,” Greenway Health Executive Chairman Tee Green said in a statement. “Now, patients need a self-sovereign, secure record that can seamlessly move between patient and provider data siloes, and in a manner that empowers them to be the CEO of their own health. Blockchain technology holds great promise for enabling the data liquidity necessary to execute on our vision of improved population health, and at lower cost.”

Other vendors are also interested in using blockchain to put patients in charge of their own records. Hyperledger Executive Director Brian Behlendorf used the metaphor of a wallet to explain why blockchain fits with modern patient and provider demands.

“People today are growing used to the idea of managing their Bitcoin or their Ethereum like a mobile wallet environment,” Behlendorf told HITInfrastrucutre.com in a previous interview. “Patients can potentially do the same thing with their medical records. They can manage them as a collection of data that they could decide to share with others with the integrity checks involved in blockchain technology to know that the data that they receive as well as what they send is verifiable and the exchange is documented with an audit trail. That would make a huge dent in patient acceptance of digitized medical records and perhaps even turn reluctant organizations into drivers of adoption.”

Organizations are just beginning to release healthcare-specific blockchain solutions. Last month Change Healthcare released its healthcare blockchain solution based on Hyperledger Fabric 1.0.

Change Healthcare credited the move to value-based care as one of the major reasons why blockchain will be used in healthcare. Advanced infrastructure technology is required to ensure that value-based care goals can be met.

Healthcare organizations are seeking advanced IT infrastructure solutions to increase efficiency in the face of value-based care. Technology such as blockchain has the potential to ease transactions and more efficiently communicate data.