By Chrissa McFarlane, CEO, Patientory, and Jonathan Fuchs, FACHE, member of the board, Patientory Association.
As we approach a new decade, there are a plethora of predictions being made around the future of the healthcare industry. Healthcare’s journey to value will, of course, continue, however, industry challenges and boundaries (i.e. competitive pressure, lack of transparency, limited patient access and erosion of trust) are still areas of concern and opportunity as the industry progresses.
My education, experience, and journey as an entrepreneur led me to create Patientory to empower consumers with an application they can use to improve their overall health and well-being. We are the world’s first healthcare cryptocurrency and HIPAA-compliant blockchain network, with more than 50 nodes registered worldwide.
I recently sat down with Jonathan Fuchs, FACHE, veteran healthcare executive, who also serves as a board member for the Patientory Association. With more than four decades of experience in healthcare management and operations, Jonathan’s expertise in health information technology, data analytics has allowed him to focus on assisting healthcare startup companies on reimbursement strategies, the impact of data and analytics on value-based care.
Chrissa McFarlane: Jonathan, thank you so much for sitting down with me to talk about Healthcare 2030. Taking a look back at how the healthcare industry has advanced over the past two decades is astounding. However, as we look ten years ahead, I believe a consumer-centric healthcare system will be crucial for industry growth. What do you say to this and how do you believe technologies such as blockchain will lead the way in advancing this mission?
Jonathan Fuchs: Chrissa, of course. To your question, health information exchange will be critical in advancing the healthcare industry and honing in on the consumer-centric approach over the next decade. Blockchain will essentially help with interoperability by streamlining efficiencies, making health care an achievable and cost-efficient reality for all. The ability to transmit patient records safely and securely will, in turn, allow patient data to be viewed by hospitals and other providers in any participating region, city or country meaning the potential of blockchain will be boundary and boundless. In addition to this, the issues of cybersecurity are also top of mind. The ability to encrypt data (specifically on a healthcare blockchain) prevents unauthorized parties from accessing and reading patient data, even if they are able to access the blockchain itself.
Blockchain technology will help create better privacy standards within the industry.
Chrissa: What would you say are some of the roadblocks to Blockchain adoption?
Johnathan: Until the ability for various healthcare information technology systems to exchange, interpret and use data cohesively occur, we will continue to see latency in the adoption of Blockchain. The very structure of the technology enables data exchange to happen at a higher level of transfer. Which, currently, electronic servers and EHR systems are not set up to handle the volume or power requirements. Another roadblock is scalability, blockchain is expensive (for now)and at this point requires more power resources to handle the speed at which it operates. That’s not to say this will always be the case, but it’s definitely true today.
Chrissa: Historically, healthcare has been slow to change. Many would argue that healthcare should be more realistic than futuristic. What do you say to this?
By Vladimir Kuzmenko, SVP of sales and business development, NIX United.
As healthcare becomes increasingly complex, the role of technology is evolving to offer new and innovative solutions that allow healthcare practices the opportunity to better serve their patients. However, as technology evolves and changes, healthcare as a whole must also grow and adapt to thrive in a complex and ever-changing ecosystem.
As we embark on a new decade (in which we’re now well into the first year), I’d like to examine a few of the more pressing trends that forward-thinking practices embracing currently and for the foreseeable future.
Some of these adoptions may include new systems and technologies being implemented, as well as technologies that are best-placed to keep up in these rapidly-changing areas of any profitable practice.
More importantly, however, is how these technologies might impact healthcare and how forward-thinking organizations take advantage of these opportunities. With this is mind, here are six trends that may influence healthcare in 2020 and beyond.
You may hear the term blockchain and think, “what does cryptocurrency have to do with helping patients?” However, blockchain has evolved and has many more applications than just new forms of currency. For instance, many urgent healthcare issues may be solved by utilizing blockchain, including:
Secure health information transfer
Health data management
Reducing the number of counterfeit medicines on the market
In addition, blockchain technology can be used in innovative ways to allow organizations to access information on a secure channel that maintains privacy.
Electronic health records
For all the integration issues U.S. healthcare organizations experienced in integrating electronic health records into their practices in the last decade, there has been no more profound change in the practice of healthcare in the U.S.
These electronic records create opportunities to track and improve patient care and to find new, more efficient treatment methods by incorporating artificial intelligence technologies. Protecting a practice’s and the patient’s data privacy is also an issue that must be addressed beforehand, not after a breach has occurred.
As the technology industry continues to experience continuous, rapid change and advancements, other industries are faced with the challenge of incorporating these new technologies, creating rules and regulations in order to ensure the safety and privacy of consumers and businesses. In 2020, technology will continue to lead to new developments in the healthcare industry, but will also leave room for new threats. In particular, telehealth will grow in popularity for both doctors and their patients, allowing for streamlined communication, more convenient consultations, an increase in treatment accuracy and the ability for patients to receive healthcare anywhere in the world.
As the health industry normalizes digitizing health data and providing telehealth services, we must also prepare for what lies in the year ahead for healthcare and data privacy – specifically as it relates to a rise in cyber threats, increase in regulations and the adoption of blockchain.
Protecting Privacy in the Wake of Cyber Threats
Today, telehealth is segmented, essentially meaning that “walls” exist in the network that protect data and act as a defense against hackers and cyber criminals. However, in the coming year, many networks will be streamlined and optimized into an end-to-end solution, likely under the umbrella of one vendor and cutting out third party applications. This has the potential to minimize costs, resources and time. However, accelerating digital health convergence in this way will open the door for network security vulnerabilities. Ultimately, this will provide hackers new avenues to access private patient data and find ways around pre-existing cyber defense mechanisms.
This increase in cyber threats due to the implementation of end-to-end solutions is something that the healthcare industry cannot be prepared for without proper regulation and a dedication to provider compliance.
Increasing and Reforming Regulations
As telehealth becomes a normalcy in patient-provider communication in 2020, we will see a rapidly evolving regulatory environment in order to combat the increase in cybersecurity threats and data breaches. This will lead to a need for additional regulatory compliance codes and demand for more security compliance assessments for healthcare providers and organizations engaging with personal health data.
Although electronic health records (EHR) are firmly established in the medical landscape, ongoing progress necessitates that providers keep up with emerging trends. Here are five of them.
1. Combining Artificial Intelligence and Voice Recognition with EHR
Artificial intelligence (AI) has already shown promise for assisting doctors with making diagnoses or recognizing historical trends about a patient’s condition. However, several companies are investigating bringing AI to EHR via voice recognition capabilities.
At Vanderbilt University Medical Center, providers can query the tools by posing questions in natural language. For example, a physician could ask a voice-enabled EHR system for details about a patient’s last recorded iron levels from blood tests. The system would inform the doctor of those levels, plus tell them whether they’re in a healthy range.
Allscripts and Northwell Health also recently struck a deal for a platform that blends AI with EHR and collects data from clinicians. Using voice commands within patient care could be especially useful for providers who have their hands full.
2. An Increased Emphasis on Mitigating EHR Errors
When the ECRI Institute released its 2020 report containing the top 10 health technology errors to be aware of in the coming year, EHR issues were mentioned multiple times. The first instance related to providers potentially being overwhelmed with notifications from EHR platforms, ignoring some of them and perhaps overlooking a genuine issue with a patient as a result.
The report also brought up the risk of medical data not including information about implants in patients that are sent for medical imaging. The study recommended providing a single place to enter or check for the presence of implant data in an EHR. Finally, the ECRI Institute cautioned that EHR mistakes could happen when a medication administration order sent by an EHR platform does not match the dosage time the provider intended.
This coverage of such mistakes will likely cause health care facilities to assess their systems and see if the issues exist there. If so, they’ll look for ways to reduce those problems.
Over the last few years, hospitals and healthcare practices throughout the country have started adopting new technology that helps them provide better care to their patients and make life easier for their employees.
For example, 64 percent of physicians now send electronic messages to their patients via text or email. Meanwhile, 63 percent allow their patients to view their medical records online.
Are you looking for new ways to bring your practice into the 21st Century? Listed below are seven of the top healthcare technology trends you ought to know about and consider implementing in your practice.
Electronic Medical Records
Electronic medical records (or EMR for short) are one of the most popular tech trends in the healthcare world.
Lots of practices have started using EMR to simplify the process of searching for patient records. EMR has also made it easier for patients to access their medical records online.
Even though plenty of practices are making use of EMR, there are still a lot of them that haven’t made the switch yet. The sooner you start making your files available in a digital format, the sooner you’ll start reaping all the benefits of EMR.
For example, EMR provides immediate access to patient records. It also helps physicians make better decisions about their patient’s care.
They can spot patterns more easily when everything is in front of them. This, in turn, allows them to choose the best treatment approach and avoid missing something important.
Blockchain has started to make its way into the healthcare world, and it’s not showing any signs of leaving.
Blockchain technology allows healthcare practices (and other businesses, for that matter) to store digital information without taking up a ton of space. It also allows them to store their information in a more secure way since it cannot be copied.
In the digital age, patient security and privacy protection are of the utmost importance to many healthcare professionals.
Blockchain systems allow practice owners and managers to ensure they’re keeping patient records and information safe. It also helps them to avoid expensive and harmful (on many levels) data breaches.
In 2019, many people are looking for new ways to get things done without leaving their homes. They have groceries delivered to their door, for example, and they communicate with friends and family via video chat.
Lots of healthcare practices are jumping in on this trend and are making it easier for patients to have their medical needs met from the comfort of their own homes as well.
Telemedicine allows patients to talk to doctors, receive medical advice, and even have prescriptions filled, without having to make a special trip to the doctor’s office.
Physicians are also using these same technologies to communicate with each other in more effective ways and come up with better, more comprehensive solutions for their patients.
Artificial intelligence is for way more than gaming. It’s also one of the biggest healthcare trends of 2019.
Physicians and researchers have started or have plans to start using artificial intelligence in a variety of ways.
As artificial intelligence technology becomes more refined, it will be easier for healthcare professionals to monitor their patients and provide better diagnosis and treatment.
It will also likely enhance the telemedicine world as well, as it will make it easier for physicians to see their patients without having to be in the same physical location as them.
Wearable health monitoring devices are not new. However, they’ve become more popular than ever, and they’re also becoming more advanced.
As these devices become more accurate and able to provide more details about the wearer’s health, it’s likely that many physicians will start relying on them to gather information about their patient’s health and daily habits.
As technology continues to improve, using virtual connections in place of face-to-face meetings has surged in popularity. The healthcare industry is no different – the telehealth industry is predicted to be worth more than $130 billion by 2025. While telehealth offers many benefits to patients, particularly those who are unable to leave their homes, the technology raises several serious security concerns.
These problems primarily stem from the lack of security controls when it comes to the collection and sharing of data. During a conversation between a patient and doctor, for example, sensitive, personal patient data is often shared. When the connection between patient and doctor is virtual, it is possible that an unsecured connection could be interrupted, and patient data leaked. Home telehealth devices and sensors may also collect data that a patient would prefer to keep private, including times that the home is unoccupied. If devices are storing and transmitting this data, it is possible that it could be accessed by third parties.
These concerns have left a lingering question: how can patients still reap the benefits of telehealth while ensuring their connections and data remain secure? The answer may lie in another technology that healthcare providers have only started to adopt – blockchain.
Enabling Secure Data
Blockchain at its most basic level simply enables secure, immutable and anonymous transactions, allowing cross-network communications to take place through mutually agreed upon interactions between parties. For healthcare providers, this opens up an efficient means of transferring data and communicating between different organizations that handle patient data. Medical records can also be stored using blockchain, allowing providers to create a more complete patient history by keeping larger amounts of data and information securely encrypted in fragmented systems.
The ability to securely share data and control who has access to it will surely help to increase consumer confidence when it comes to telehealth. Blockchain requires that data is approved by both the patient and doctor before it is entered into a computer. The data must also be verified against a previous ledger, so no single party ever has total control. This ensures multiple checks are in place and reduces the chance that an unauthorized party could access sensitive patient data, which is one of the main concerns when it comes to using telehealth.
Regulating Sensitive Communications
While it offers many solutions, federal organizations have not officially decided how regulations would apply to blockchain, including the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA). HIPAA outlines rules for ensuring the privacy and security of patient data, as well as the secure transfer of data, but it does not apply to patients; ensuring blockchain users remain compliant will be the responsibility of healthcare providers.
HIPPA guidelines for telehealth require that healthcare organizations communicate electronically protected health information (ePHI) through regulated channels to ensure security. This means that tools like Skype or unencrypted email cannot be used to communicate ePHI, limiting what could be used for cost-effective telehealth.
While cybersecurity is an issue constantly addressed by the media and something small and large businesses alike are consistently focusing on, one of the biggest digital dilemmas comes from the healthcare system. This may be unsurprising, given that financial records and personal data are all stored within patient care files. Hackers are fully aware of the value of this data, and it’s about time that the medical industry shows that it does as well.
Sadly, one in four consumers have had their
healthcare data breached. This calls for swift action by the players in the
field. Some experts think that the answer can be found in blockchain. That’s
right — the same technology that secures Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies
could soon become the key to protecting patient records.
While there have been ongoing discussion among
government and finance officials about the actual risks of cryptocurrency, it’s
generally agreed upon by tech experts that blockchain is one of the most secure
ways to go. Will the world see this technology implemented into its healthcare
systems soon, though? It’s very possible that the answer is “yes.”
The Security of Blockchain Makes
It the Best Ledger for Healthcare Networks
The reason that blockchain technology a
regular part of public discussion and being normalized in new industries so
frequently is its transparency and security measures. It’s garnered public,
private, criminal, and government interest due to this, and it’s doubtful that
its popularity will stop anytime soon. But what is it about the ledger that
makes it so safe?
Primarily, it’s the unique approach it takes
to security keys. There wouldn’t be a way for someone to modify or corrupt
information within a blockchain system without the relevant key. At one point
it was even believed that the technology was unhackable.
While there is still debate over what it means to hack blockchain networks and
whether or not it’s even been done, that debate still points to the safety of
those networks at large. Without a doubt, it is the most secure ledger for
protecting personal data — and hospitals may need it the most.
Making It Official
The lengths at which blockchain is being
adapted cannot be understated. Government officials are starting to explore the
technology, and the big four investment firms are even beginning to pay attention to it. But what
does this mean for the healthcare industry?
Well right now, blockchain still is not the
norm. Currently, if a hospital or healthcare organization wants to adopt it,
they are probably making the best move in terms of security.
While there are downsides to this kind of mass
adoption (discussed at further length below), it also calls for advancements to
be made, which could better these systems as a whole. It should be noted that
with something as new as blockchain technology hitting the greater market,
there are a lot of changes bound to happen that cannot be accurately predicted
The Adaptation of Blockchain in
Culture May Challenge Security
Granted, it is very important to recognize
that blockchain’s mass acceptance could adulterate the technology. With
businesses at large implementing it into their operations and the parallel use
of mobile money tools in modern society, people are going to start looking for
loopholes. Hackers are going to make it their duty to try and disrupt it.
For this reason, there needs to be external precautions set up for security. A good example is business insurance — something necessary for every hospital, even with blockchain implementation. The loss of mass amounts of data is bound to occur, so hospitals need to be protected, even when their systems seem foolproof.
Right now, hospitals and organizations at
large need to understand that blockchain is a very important technology to the
future of healthcare. But it cannot be solely depended on, either. Other
precautions need to be taken to protect patient data by the healthcare
industry. Blockchain may be the best option healthcare networks have for data
Global Care Administrators announced that its deep learning health intelligence platform will go to market under the name Global Care Analytics (GCANA). According to company president, Scott Guilfoyle, the platform gives healthcare management a tool for key management insights within claims-and-cost and clinical data, and solid predictive analytics from local and/or global data via the desktop.
“Global Care gives the C-suite of health systems,
hospitals, and medical groups the power to conduct deep analytics, and
predictive analytics, of their data. The CEO, COO, or CFO can execute precisely targeted, complex queries
on massive data sets with real-time or near-real-time responses by dragging and
dropping preset queries into the engine,” says Guilfoyle.
“We have a patented hyper-ingestion engine that can take in a
million datasets a minute, which is amazingly fast and accurate. Then our
hyper-digestion process uses neural networks to analyze the oceans of data, and become more
and more accurate as it learns to refine its ability to make connections.”
Guilfoyle, the former CTO of PayPal,
and CIO of LendingTree,Bank of
America Card Services, and GE’s Aircraft Engine Services, Aircraft
Engines eBusiness, and Plastics Americas, believes the
company’s deep analytics platform gives healthcare executives access to
billions of data points for better organizational management, delivery of care,
and population health. “Plus, there is enormous value in access to our global
health data exchange. Each time we onboard a new client, and each time any and
all clients query the platform, the ocean of collected health data in our
exchange grows larger, and our platform grows more knowledgeable and more
Global Care was founded by former senior healthcare executives who all, according to CEO Kevin Sullivan, “Understand the enormous value of the data trapped within a healthcare organization. This is the intelligence engine I wish I’d had in my former senior operations positions. The value of deep analytics will radically transform day-to-day healthcare management for the better. When executive management has desktop power to identify gaps in care or delivery of care services, outcome metrics, and the most complete real-time picture of the health of their patient populations, they can speed up more knowledgeable decision making. Speed, precision, deep knowledge, and agility through predictive analytics are tools they can use to radically change their landscape.”
Guilfoyle says the analytics technology will be followed by what most healthcare management think of as “unobtainium:” A frictionless transaction (billing-claims-reimbursement) systemthat authenticates the patient, authorizes the procedure, files the claim with the payor, and reimburses the provider in real-time as care is delivered. Imagine providers being paid before the patient leaves the facility.”
He says company’s Global Care Pay technology could help eliminate some of the $147bn – $510bn of waste in administrative complexities and manual transactions. “Global Care Pay applies smart contracts and blockchain technology to make the transaction frictionless, immediate, highly accurate, and secure. It’s our next big step and one we’re really excited to bring to market in the near future.”
Sullivan says the two-year-old, privately-held company is raising capital, and it plans to build out the pay system on the foundational success of the analytics platform. “We’re way out front on blockchain pay technology, and our work with clients on deep learning analytics gives us the kind of real-world environment we need to fine-tune the Global Care Pay for a soft release in the next 12-14 months.”
Blockchain offers countless opportunities for growth and development of many industries. Sectors like finance, banking, government and public services, education and commerce have already taken the first steps at embracing this revolutionary technology.
One of the industries blockchain can change beyond recognition is healthcare. In this post, we will cover the opportunities blockchain offers for the healthcare sector, and the present use cases of blockchain in healthcare.
Why does healthcare need blockchain?
Healthcare industry has a lot of issues on a local, national and global levels. It has been struggling with data collection, storage, and transfer problems for a long time now. Federal regulations and rules make all the healthcare procedures lengthy and tedious. The current healthcare system does not manage patient data well. Pretty often it happens so that one patient cannot gather all of their medical records in one place and in one format quickly, or cannot gather the needed information at all.
Unfortunately, critical patient information is in most cases scattered across different healthcare institutions in different formats. What makes it even harder for healthcare providers and patients is that data management systems and security regulations often vary across different institutions and states. What’s even worse, many medical records have mistakes in them, and the outdated data management systems cannot trace and fix these mistakes. It all boils down to this: in extreme situations and in time of urgent need, it is practically impossible to access all the needed patient information easily, quickly and securely.
What can blockchain do here? With the help of this innovative technology, healthcare providers will be able to facilitate their data management processes beyond recognition. Blockchain can help healthcare providers collect, exchange, analyze and secure medical records seamlessly. It will give doctors and patients an opportunity to access any needed patient data from anywhere without tolerating the privacy or security of any party.
Can blockchain be a panacea for the healthcare industry? One thing is for sure — this technology can help the healthcare system improve healthcare services greatly without rising the costs of the corresponding processes significantly.
Blockchain and patient data handling
Blockchain can help the healthcare sector solve the issue with patient data storage. Potentially, it can cancel all the cultural, geographical, political and religious limitations that interfere with patient data handling nowadays. When the patient data is stored in the blockchain, it can be processed, managed and transferred seamlessly and securely. It means that in times of greatest need and urgency all the required data will be there to save a life.
MedRec, an Ethereum-based system, is one of the first blockchain-powered solutions that aim at facilitating patient data management. MedRec makes it easy for patients and doctors to view and manage patient data securely.
The Central and Southern Ohio chapter of the Healthcare Information and Management Systems Society (CSO HIMSS) announced its Spring conference titled “AI, Blockchain and Care: The Future ABC’s of Healthcare” will be held on Friday, May 10, 2019, at the Conference Center at OCLC, 6600 Kilgour Place, Dublin, Ohio.
The conference will open with a welcome from the CSO HIMSS program hair, Caitlin Graham, CSO HIMSS president, Ajay Sharma, and will include a presentation of Scholarship Awards to recipients Shreya Patel from Ohio State University and Melissa Schulte from Miami University. The conference will feature keynote addresses from Dr. Tina Moen, chief pharmacy officer of IBM Watson Health and Ed Marx, CIO, the Cleveland Clinic.
The conference will conclude with a blockchain panel discussion with two members from the HIMSS National Blockchain Task Force on the panel topic “ABC’s of Healthcare with blockchain. The Reality Today and how to make it work for you tomorrow.”
Ajay Sharma, president of CSO HIMSS said, “The CSO HIMSS Chapter likes to be at the forefront of educating our members with relevant trends for the healthcare IT ecosystem. AI and Blockchain are both areas that are being talked about in a healthcare provider setting due to clinicians being inundated with data. With cloud adoption, storage discussions start in the Petabytes. We are sure that in the not too distant future, the concept of ‘only Petabytes’ may sound quaint. AI provides hope to many in IT to tame that data challenge and be able to provide faster and more efficient care for our patient populations.”
In addition to the educational aspect of the event, there’s also the opportunity network with other attendees and innovative sponsors. Sponsors include Cisco, IBM, AHEAD and Box, Commvault, Nutanix, Path Forward IT, Zones Healthcare IT Solutions and Covermymeds.