One of the most significant problems facing United States healthcare is how patient information is shared between doctors, hospitals, specialists, and patients. There is plenty of room for error and data tends to get confusing when multiple people try to read and use it. One solution could be blockchain technology.
There is plenty of room for error when multiple providers need to enter patient information into an extensive database. The errors can significantly impact the kind and quality of care a patient receives, including the insurance company denying the claim for a technical error. These simple errors add to a hospital’s expenses.
Blockchain revolutionizes the system by cutting costs and giving patients control over their own healthcare through encrypted data. Every time someone changes something, the system notes it and makes a trail to determine who and when someone made a change. With well thought out and effective implementation, blockchain could be the answer to patient management of their records. At the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, a MedRec system is currently in place as a test to see how the technology functions.
For the technology to be successful, providers would have to be willing to participate. On the technological front, companies are focusing on compatibility and streamlining the system. Other effects of using blockchain would be simplifying how insurance claims are processed, verifying doctor’s license requirements, and accuracy of records.
Patients using blockchain would see information in real-time without waiting for a provider to relay it back, saving time and easing frustration. All parties are on the same page for the process to create clarity. The de-centralized system increases security because it spreads information to many computers instead of one place, which makes it harder for hackers to intercept.
Insurance companies verify information, but it is pricey. Current estimates state that it costs $2.1 billion every day to maintain directories, but expenses could be cut by up to 75 percent with blockchain, says Busy Burr from Humana.
The system starts with gathering doctor’s information such as addresses, whether they accept new patients or phone numbers. Eventually, data such as licenses and credentials could be added. States such as Illinois are looking into using blockchain to verify licenses and credentials, but for projects to move forward there needs to be adequate funding, says Illinois Department of Financial and Professional Regulation, Bryan Schneider.
Evidently, blockchain has the ability to greatly impact every industry across the board. May we strive to support these changes as they come, for they could yield positive results for all consumers, regardless of their background or income.