The healthcare industry is under intense pressure to improve its efficiency. However, interoperability between technology and various integrated systems presents many challenges that are hindering health facilities from being fully connected and productive.
We have known for years that healthcare needs solutions that artificial intelligence can provide. But the initial proofs of concept have taken too long to materialize. Without clear boundaries and use cases showing how AI in healthcare can work, leadership teams are unable to horizontally collaborate with each other.
How AI in Healthcare Could Solve Interoperability Problems
Technology has the potential to transform the way healthcare works for patients, but right now, interoperability is difficult to attain. Despite industry guides such as the Fast Healthcare Interoperability Resources, data is still a messy business. Data is stored in different ways and in different silos — and not every facility has the ability to read and understand the information contained within the respective silos and make it actionable.
This has a heavy impact on how practitioners work with technology. A radiologist reading film and a doctor making a diagnosis for a chronic pain patient only have access to their siloed expertise. With AI solutions in healthcare, data can be drawn from different disciplines and diagnosis can become faster and smarter.
When used in conjunction with AI, blockchain technology has the power to help practitioners and organizations work together without security risks. Because the blockchain represents a transparent, single source of information that cannot be changed, it can store data from multiple sources and create a harmonized picture of truth that different users can access without bias. In addition, limits can be put in place as to who has access to the data.
This helps healthcare experts form a central hub where the very best knowledge, therapies, and drug research can be pooled, therefore helping target diseases more effectively while keeping patient and research data absolutely secure and private.
It’s clear that leaders at healthcare organizations need to remove the siloed approach and develop an atmosphere of increased collaboration. But how, exactly?
How Blockchain, AI, and Healthcare Can Work Together
Blockchain technology in healthcare helps fulfill all four kinds of interoperability defined by the Healthcare Information and Management Systems Society: foundational, structural, semantic, and organizational. Blockchain’s uses in healthcare create a basis — a structure — where data can live safely and transparently. Then, blockchain can enable a rendering that helps different kinds of readers see and understand the data.
Two aspects of blockchain technology that are especially interesting to the healthcare industry are permissioned blockchains and smart contracts. A permissioned blockchain maintains the privacy of data, knows all the stakeholders, and makes data viewable by actors on the network who are authorized to see it. Smart contracts are “instructions” on the blockchain that are executed automatically once all necessary conditions or events are met. This means decisions can be made available automatically without human intervention. That’s where the power of AI’s uses in healthcare really materialize. This harmonized dataset — coupled with safe and secure automation — means that AI can be used to make faster, better, and more predictive decisions.
Data is the engine behind AI, but it’s also becoming the engine behind healthcare systems and how doctors diagnose and treat patients. If we can aggregate and translate vast amounts of data into streamlined workflows, AI can be used to efficiently diagnose and monitor patients, detect illness, accelerate drug development, and seamlessly run clinical trials.
The ingredients for interoperability are all there, but it’s now up to operators and developers to find ways to work together. The benefits of AI in healthcare are massively transformative — as long as we can find ways to solve problematic perceptions of blockchain and data privacy and get human beings to open up their silos.
No one technology will save the future of healthcare interoperability. It will take collaboration between developers, operators, academics, drug researchers, and an interwoven stack of technologies to bring together a universe of data and put it to good use.
Q: What is the state of artificial intelligence (AI) within healthcare organizations and services now?
Patel: In a 2019 DXC survey of more than 600 global companies, we found nearly half (48%) of healthcare executives and board members expect artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML) to play a significant role in their digital strategies three years from now — the most of any technology or industry practice. Nearly one in three (32%) expect that assessing and adopting new digital tools, such as AI and blockchain, will be one of the three most critical aspects of digital decision-making in the coming year.
Of course, while discussion about AI has become ubiquitous, and while the promise has been great, adoption in healthcare has been slow. Yet AI has the potential to address multiple shortcomings in healthcare, such as misdiagnosis, treatment errors, wasted resources, process inefficiencies and physician burnout. As the need for high-quality, affordable healthcare mounts, using data to make better-informed healthcare decisions is essential. Healthcare organizations will accelerate the use of AI to better anticipate patient needs, improve treatment decisions and reduce health risks in select cohorts moving forward.
Q: What’s an example of a way in which AI is already changing healthcare?
Patel: Some healthcare organizations’ prioritization of AI is focused on facilitating the rise of precision medicine, which aims to tailor medical treatment to each individual’s specific profile by employing digital analytic tools.
The goal of precision medicine is to provide more accurate information about the patient’s condition, the population subset they belong to, and the treatments that are most effective for that group. This enables both doctors and patients to decide on a course of action that’s more precisely suited to the individual’s profile. AI, and in particular ML, takes precision medicine to the next level with the ability to read large datasets and improve accuracy and prediction of outcome for patients.
Q: How can AI and providers work together to improve health outcomes?
Patel: There is a concern among some providers that AI will replace the need for human workers; however, AI should be viewed as a tool to enhance and scale providers through the automation of simple tasks, freeing up time for providers to spend with their patients (“high tech, high touch”). AI empowers doctors and other healthcare professionals to take better care of patients by identifying and streamlining the who, what, how and where of healthcare, giving providers more time to connect with patients and deliver personalized, compassionate care.
Healthcare and pharma is one of the fastest-developing industries today, with 2019 characterized by a diversity of startups developing blockchain-based solutions to track and trace global drug supply.
The Quality Assurance engineers at QA Madness predict the active use of blockchain and the growth of traceability system solutions. This trend was offered in 2018 by the Global Future Council Report on Health. But since we get more and more healthcare digital software that functions on the blockchain, I think the trend will be gaining traction in 2020.
Blockchain has all chances to revolutionize the industry, making the global pharma export/import/supply transparent and safe. Blockchain can divide pharmaceutical suppliers and customers as well as to provide secure record-keeping of each transaction. This is by far the most effective and transparent way to ensure trust among the supply chains.
Although usually blockchain apps differ, they share a common approach — creating nodes, digital financial transactions distributed among several parties. That means blockchain creates a corruption-resistant system where the nodes detect legitimate data and, therefore, enable them within the system.
The data itself looks like a series of chronologically organized transactions with a unique digital signature. Such mapping supports stable activity regulation where a person, system or company openly links to the data they contributed.
Therefore, digital signatures, hash values, encryption — all standard security features will come in handy for those who develop a blockchain app for tracing pharma products.
The benefits such traceability system brings
Data protection. Blockchain capacity combines streamlined visibility of stakeholders’ movements through the supply chain transits with private data messaging. The system prevents sensitive business data leakage. Permission-based private messaging controls the list of partners you trust.
Trust and transparency. This is about certifying the drug & material suppliers and the opportunity to trace the whole journey in any supply chain. The possibility to trace stakeholders at any supply chain stage is by far the most effective way to eliminate global illegal drug shipping. As a result, drug safety blockchain creates a greater sense of trust between pharmaceutical companies and patients. Moreover, medicine turn back policy will become much more effective through the traceable supply chain.
Easy and fast management. Blockchain pharmaceutical supply helps to identify the trusted trading and supply service providers. The technology sends quick batch reminders to detect the exact location and source of medicines maintaining increased safety of patients’ health.
There is much hype with regards to the use of blockchain technology in the field of healthcare due to its distributed ledgers. Many organizations have disappointed with the use of blockchain because of incomplete or partial knowledge. According to the experts, the blockchain development solutions are the future of the global healthcare industry. Many experts are involved in the experiment to implement the technology in the various healthcare departments. The following are the various predictions offered by the blockchain according to the experts in future.
The wait is over. Let’s jump into the interesting predictions for the growth of blockchain from expert’s perspective
Blockchain will become an important part of the management in the healthcare industry to enable the sharing of information. Data is currently stored in the electronic health record system based on various individuals. Blockchain technology will enable the storage of the patient’s data which will enable the data exchange and treatments and privacy preferences on the blockchain. This will allow data to be accessed by the various stakeholders and officials.
Tokenization of the non-cash assets
A token can represent anything like real estate information, a physical object and also an outcome. Ruban Selvanayagam of UK real estate company Property Solvers comments: “many industries with huge asset bases are exploring blockchain technology and smart contracts to create broader efficiencies whilst keeping things completely secure.” The tokens will be able to help the officials manage the various results of the healthcare industry from the end of the institutions as well as patients. Tokens are used to reduce the burden of the experts and also help enhance the patients care as well as medications.
Under the value-based care system, the providers will reimburse the wellness of the patients not for the quality but the care of the patients. So, it will become easy to use the process to make universal payment interfaces that will help patients make micropayments. This will also help organizations achieve the desired goals or outcomes and enhance innovations. Similarly, the tracking of the co-operative pays and the share of the medical expenses could be able to simplify the blockchain payment interface. It provides the opportunity to the organizations to buy the outcomes from the service providers.
To store and maintain the directories of the healthcare industry is a very critical task. The organizations have to keep the data up to date and also have to face the complex issues related to the patient’s data. To handle and manage the paperwork, the personnel need proper training and should possess the ability to understand the various aspects and important features. But blockchain provides a user-friendly environment that can simplify the usage of the system.
Electrical usage reductions
The blockchain technology will help you to reduce the electricity requirements, and it also helps enhance the speed and scalability of the system in the big concerns. It increases the transaction speed to enhance efficiency and reduce the cost of the transactions. Blockchain provides proof of work approaches to lessen the consumption of the electricity in data collection, storage, processing and other tasks.
If you want to know about the use cases that blockchain revolutionized healthcare industry, stay tuned until the end.
In many cases, it becomes difficult to track the various activities of the medical suppliers like pharmacies. The Blockchain approach will help healthcare track the products from the suppliers to the specific receivers whether they are healthcare institutions or the patients. This helps the healthcare institutions to ensure the integrity of the various products as well as different pharmacies.
Imagine for a second: you’re walking through the busy halls of your local hospital, only to notice that the doctors and nurses around you are constantly checking their phones and tablets. It strikes you as odd, and you can’t help but think: Isn’t anyone getting any work done around here?
Actually, they are.
With over 70 percent of examined patients using at least one health app to manage their diagnosed condition, and more than 318,000 mobile healthcare apps available in top app stores worldwide, the picture of doctors and nurses relying on their devices as literal “mobile assistants” is becoming a highly sought-after reality.
While this perspective is often bolstered by positive reviews of hand-held computer use by healthcare professionals – where digital assistant devices improved physician effectiveness during patient documentation, patient care, information seeking and professional work patterns — the mHealth industry still has a lot of room to grow in terms of digital health infrastructure.
Not to be put off, mHealth developers have nevertheless continued to advance their compliance, security, accessibility, and efficiency practices in the face of wide-scale transformative change. And when asked, most mHealth developers (myself included) will tell you that what motivates us to keep going has to do with the massive potential these technologies have to literally transform the field of medicine as we know it.
And what exactly is thatpotential? Every day our news feeds are inundated with articles promoting the latest in mHealth technology – from mobile apps that can perform an ultrasound, to apps that help patients track their own symptoms – so it can be hard to navigate the ever-widening world of mobile healthcare.
In light of such a big subject then, I’ve often taken to cementing my own understanding of mobile health by thinking about the ways in which these applications are already affecting physicians, clinicians, and other practitioners at every stage of their medical career.
Put differently, from the time that an aspiring healthcare professional begins their educational journey, to their first-accepted payment for needed treatment, mobile health apps are helping doctors transform the field of medicine before our very eyes. Here’s how:
In a lot of our popular media, physician education is represented as an arduous journey from beginning to end. With long nights studying, cadavers to examine, and an infinite amount of medical information to digest, med students are flocking to (mobile) medical education applications that can help them test their own knowledge in a way that suits their learning style.
By Ben Flock, chief healthcare strategist, TEKsystems.
Healthcare professionals know that blockchain is coming, but there is still some apprehension associated with the technology. The cryptocurrency industry first pioneered this technology and its results have been highly impressive. But when it comes to the healthcare industry, there is a lack of proven use cases, leading to a delay in blockchain’s widespread adoption.
To pull back the curtain on the reluctance to adopt blockchain technology, TEKsystems partnered with HIMSS Analytics to host a focus group of business and technology leaders from the payer, provider, pharma and public sector. The goal: to better understand customer needs and business challenges when it comes to actually implementing blockchain.
Findings revealed that, as most in the industry already know or suspect, there is a limited overall understanding of blockchain technology. However, it seems that this limited knowledge is the foundation for most of the apprehension toward widely adopting the technology. Additional roadblocks that contribute to this apprehension include the lack of impactful use cases, fears of what the unspecified governance of data could mean for compliance, security concerns and industry politics, among others.
There is good news—those who have a basic understanding of blockchain exhibit less apprehension and a more cautious exuberance toward adoption of the technology. As understanding of blockchain grows and more practical examples of its benefits are found, the healthcare industry will become more open to implementing blockchain solutions.
During the focus group, participants discussed proven use cases for blockchain that could be used as industry examples to help increase the general understanding of blockchain technology. The group identified three main use cases that could be implemented in the near term after a short testing period: provider directory updates, expediting the provider credentialing process and prior authorization.
A provider directory was the first use case identified by the focus group. Insurance companies must provide patients with timely, accurate provider contact information and new patient availability. While Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) regulate provider directory services, many of them are inefficient, costly and often laden with manual processes. With blockchain, the provider ledger could be maintained through a proactive, structured, perpetual process enabling open and direct access to provider information on an as-needed basis. Because provider directory information is already public record, it’s a high-result, low-risk proof-of-concept project.